5 Common Causes of House Fires and How to Prevent Them

common causes of house fires

There are over a million fires in the United States every year, leading to over 3,500 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries in 2018 alone. Not to mention the financial loss.

The worrying part is that 30% of fires are residential. So what are the most common causes of house fires, and how can you avoid them?

Read on to learn what you can do to prevent disaster in your home. 


It may seem harmless to leave the room whilst something simmers on the stove or let your children try cooking unattended once in a while. However, you should never leave heat sources, open flames, or children alone or unsupervised. 

Oil and fat can catch fire if they become too hot. They can also explode, spreading the fire quickly. Kitchen towels are often discarded too close to open flames and can also catch alight.

Around 50% of house fires are caused by cooking, which makes cooking accidents and carelessness the most common causes of house fires.

Some small additions to your kitchen could help if and when an accident does occur. A residential fire extinguisher would be a top choice, and you can also get a fire blanket. However, never attempt to put out a serious fire that is too large or unsafe. 


Heaters are the next largest cause of house fires. Space heaters and baseboard heaters can also cause fabrics and other flammables to catch fire if left too close. Never dry clothes by hanging them over or close to these heaters. 

Open fires or heaters that require fuel are also especially dangerous. Never leave them unattended, and be sure to keep fuel sources and anything flammable far away from the heat source. 


Faulty wiring and electrical malfunction in the next most common cause of house fires, after unintentional or careless reasons.

Never use an appliance or any cables that are clearly damaged, frayed, or unsafe. And don’t overload your sockets.

If you need a lot of things plugged in at the same place, consider installing new outlets. Avoid using multiple extension leads from the same plug.

Practice electrical safety by switching off and removing plugs when they are not in use. Use a professional to carry out electrical installations, and have your wiring checked and repaired regularly. 


After faults and malfunctions, smoking accidents account for 2% of all house fires. Consider smoking outside the house rather than inside, and never do so in bed or if you’re sleepy. 

Always ensure you put out a cigarette in a safe place, like an ashtray or water, and never flick them to discard them when you’re done. 


Candles look great and create a lovely atmosphere. But as with any other heat source, never leave candles unattended, close to curtains or other fabrics, or in places that they could easily be knocked over.

Remember not to leave children unattended or playing near candles or open flames. 

Common Causes of House Fires

Now you know the most common causes of house fires are cooking, heating, electrical faults, smoking, and candles. You also know how easy it is to prevent fires from happening.

Be sure to check out the rest of our website for more great tips and advice. 

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