The Most Common Causes of House Fires

fire alarm systems

Smoke. Heat. There’s something amiss, the type of thing that sends fire alarm systems into high alert. You freeze for a second, every emotion overtaken by disbelief. It’s something you never thought could happen: a house fire.

But as unthinkable as they might be, house fires happen every 86 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

And while house fires can be alleviated by installing things like fire alarm systems, there are ways to prevent fires, especially when you know the most common causes.

1. Cooking equipment

The leading cause of house fires, typically the result of someone leaving pots and pans unattended. Keep an eye on your food, or have someone else do so. And if a fire occurs while cooking, use caution. More than half of all cooking fire injuries happened when people tried to fight the fire themselves.

2. Smoking

This has been the number one cause of fatal home fires for decades, according to the NFPA. Sixty-six percent of these deaths resulted from upholstered furniture, mattresses or bedding catching fire. Cigarette butts can remain lit for hours, so try to keep smoking outdoors, or at least out of the bedroom.

3. Heating equipment

Twenty percent of all fatal home fires involved heating equipment. It’s all the second most common cause of home fires, home fire deaths – tied with cooking related deaths – and home fire injuries, the NFPA says.

When we say heating equipment, we’re focusing more on things like space heaters and wood stoves as opposed to central heating.

4. Intentional fires

Eight percent of home fires and 14 percent of fatal home fires were intentionally set, and the FBI says that two of every five people arrested for arson in recent years were under 18.

5. Electrical fires

Another leading cause of home fires is electrical distribution, which includes things like fixed wiring, meters, switches, receptacles, outlets, cords and plugs, and lighting equipment.

Fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment account for nine percent of fires and fire injuries in the home, and 16 percent of home fire deaths.

Other fire hazards:

  • Candles – They might smell nice but leaving them unattended can cause a fire to start very easily. Keep them away from things that are flammable like tissue boxes or books, and always blow out candles when leaving a room.
  • Barbecues – When cooking on the grill, make sure you’re far away from the home, tablecloths and plants. Keep your grills clean and maintained.
  • Flammable liquids – Be careful when storing liquids like gasoline or kerosene, and keep them away from heat sources.

Smoke alarms and sprinklers

Nearly every home in America has at least one smoke alarm, but 60 percent of all home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke alarms, or at least no working smoke alarm. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who have a disability, or are very close to the source of the fire may not be able to act on the alarm.

Sprinkler systems, meanwhile, decrease the fire death rate per 1,000 reported home fires by close to 80 percent, the NFPA says. The organization is leading a national effort to adopt sprinkler requirements in new home construction.

Protect your home with fire alarm systems from Holicong

If you’re looking for a new way to protect your home against fire, Holicong Security can help. We offer high-quality fire detection solutions for residential properties, including smoke alarms, fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems and water flow valves.

Contact us today to learn more about the fire protection systems we offer.

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