The 4 Most Common Causes of House Fires

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Fire. It’s one of the scariest dangers for any homeowner, and while the number of house fires in the United States has steadily declined in recent years, these incidents still contribute to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of damage each year.

While a fire alarm system can alert your family to danger and help you stop the problem before it gets out of hand, understanding what can cause a house fire—and knowing how to prevent these incidents—is essential for protecting your home.

But what are the dangers you should be watching out for? Here are the four most common culprits behind house fires:

1) Electrical Fires

Whether the result of an overloaded electrical outlet or a malfunctioning appliance, electrical fires are one of the most common threats homeowners face. Be smart with your home’s electricity use—don’t overload a circuit or leave your lights on overnight (especially halogen lights and other high-risk materials).

Conducting an annual inspection of your home’s electrical system can also help you avoid house fires. Professional electricians can identify faulty wiring, damaged outlets, and other hazards and then provide the repairs to keep your system safe.

2) Cooking Fires

Cooking fires rank as the number one cause of house fires in the United States, with the majority of incidents occurring when food is left unattended. This is especially problematic when frying food, or any time when large quantities of grease are involved.

Your best bet to avoid a cooking fire is simply to keep an eye on your food at all times. If a fire does occur, your key to safety is to cut off the fire’s oxygen supply. Grease fires should be covered with a lid over the pan, rather than trying to use water (which will actually make the fire worse). An oven fire can be handled simply by closing the oven door and turning the oven off.

3) Dryers

You may not think of your clothes dryer as a fire hazard, but these appliances account for tens of thousands of house fires each year. The problem most frequently occurs when lint and dust are allowed to build up. Over time, this can cause the dryer vent to become clogged with highly flammable materials, which easily combust when exposed to high temperatures.

Your best option for dryer safety is to clean the lint trap each time before you use the dryer, and to inspect and clean the dryer vent area to remove lint buildup and other potential blockages. Regular cleaning can ultimately make all the difference in avoiding a house fire.

4) Candles

Candles may seem like the perfect fit for a romantic evening, but the minute you leave a lit candle in an unoccupied room, you’re asking for trouble. Your recipe for safety is simple: always blow out a candle if you’re going to leave a room, and never place a lit candle in a spot near combustible items or where it could be tipped over.

Simple candle safety practices could make all the difference between a relaxing evening and receiving an alert from your fire alarm system.


As you watch out for these common home fire hazards and take the necessary preventative steps, you can have peace of mind as you keep your family and property safe.

* Image Credit:

Featured Image, Pexels

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