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The 3 Most Common Causes of House Fires

a fireplace that could cause a house fire
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 400,000 house fires occur every year, and they cause more than $8 billion dollars of damage annually. Some of the common causes of house fires are, unfortunately, unpredictable and uncontrollable. However, many of them can be easily prevented, and there are some simple steps that homeowners can take to ensure that their homes are as safe as possible.

The best thing that you can do to keep your home and your family as safe as possible is to be educated about the most common ways that house fires start. There are plenty of things that you can do to prevent some of the common problems that lead to house fires, and knowing what those things are is a huge step toward keeping your home safe. Many of the systems in your home that you use on a daily basis, like your heating and electricity, can easily turn into huge dangers if they are maintained well, and simply keeping these parts of your home in great shape is an excellent way to start to prevent house fires.

Here are a few extremely common causes of house fires and some of the ways that you can keep your home safe:

Kitchen Fires

Around 40% of all house fires are related to cooking, so keeping your kitchen safe is very important. Cooking is most likely a very common activity in your life, and it can be easy to not treat cooking as the safety hazard that it can be. Be sure to always follow these steps when you’re cooking in your home:

  • Stay alert. If you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, do not use your stove.
  • Never leave any food you’re frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling unattended. Remain in the kitchen while these things cook.
  • If you’re simmering or baking food, be sure to check it regularly. If you leave the kitchen, set a timer so that you don’t forget to check on the food.
  • Many things in your kitchen can catch fire. Be sure to keep oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, or any other flammable materials safely away from your stovetop.

If you do have a kitchen fire:

  • Get out of the house and close the door behind you to keep the fire contained.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • If there is a fire in your oven, turn off the heat and close the oven door.


Especially if you don’t have your furnace serviced regularly, your heating system can end up being extremely dangerous during the winter months. In order to function properly, gas furnaces require adequate ventilation, and they must be installed with sufficient clearance between furnace, walls, and ceiling. If any shelving, boxes, or other items are stored too close to a furnace, they can hinder the air flow and create a fire hazard.

Make sure that your furnace has adequate space ventilation, and be sure to have annual tune-ups of the heating unit to ensure that there are no gas leaks or other fire hazards.

Electrical Fires

Electrical problems are one of the leading cause of house fires in the US. Unfortunately, your electrical system may seem to be when working fine while it’s only getting more and more dangerous. Having electrical safety inspections performed regularly is one of the best ways to ensure that your electrical system is as safe as possible.

You should also look out for some warning signs that your electrical system is overloaded, outdated, or dangerous, including:

  • An over-reliance on extension cords or surge protectors. Your outlets can only provide so much wattage, and if you’re trying to get more out of them, it can result in power outages, or a fire.
  • Circuit breakers that frequently trip. When breakers trip, it’s often because they’re being overextended. Before you switch them back on, consider calling your electrician to have your panel upgraded, or your wiring inspected.