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House Fires, The Main Causes of

Top 5 Causes of House Fires and Tips on Preventing Them

Unfortunately, residential fires costing billions in property damage are an all too common occurrence in the United States, and they often have deadly consequences.

Consider these sobering statistics  from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Each year there are 358,000 house fires in the U.S.
  • Every day, about seven Americans, including at least one child, die in house fires.

house fires

With these statistics in mind, in this article we want to provide information on how house fires start, as well as suggesting ways to prevent them.

Main Sources and Causes of House Fires

The Kitchen

Nearly half of house fires start in the kitchen, and kitchen-related fires are especially common during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas when more people are present and we’re preparing larger meals.

Some of the ways to prevent kitchen fires include:

  • If you leave the kitchen, turn the stove off until you come back.
  • If you have something in the oven, make sure you have a loud timer to alert you when the item is done. And if you leave the kitchen, consider carrying a wooden spoon or oven mitt with you to remind you there’s something baking in the oven.
  • Keep anything flammable well away from any open flames on your stove.
  • When you have pans on the stove, turn the handles inward so they won’t be bumped by anyone walking by.

Heating Equipment

Heating equipment, especially space heaters, is the second leading cause of house fires. If you use space heaters to add a bit of extra warmth, following these precautions:

  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from a space heater.
  • Don’t plug additional appliances into the electrical outlet being used by the space heater.
  • Turn off the heater when you leave the room.
  • If you’re using older space heaters, consider replacing them with more recent models that turn off automatically if they overheat or if they’re tipped over.

Electrical Fires

These can easily be started when electrical circuits are overloaded and extension cords are used carelessly. Tips to avoid electrical fires include:

  • Always plug major appliances into a wall outlet and never into an extension cord.
  • Never use an extension cord with any heat producing appliance.
  • Make sure electrical cords can’t be tripped over, causing lamps or appliances to tip over.


Most of us really like the warm, cozy atmosphere produced by burning candles, but they can be a real fire hazard. So, consider these tips:

  • Think about using battery-powered candles that flicker just like real candles but are far safer to use.
  • Never leave any burning candles unattended.
  • Keep burning candles at least three feet away from any flammable objects like newspapers, magazines, books, curtains, and clothing.


Smoking is not as common as it once was, but the danger related to smoking still exists. If you or someone else in the household smokes, please following these suggestions including:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never smoke around a medical oxygen tank. Even if the tank is turned off, there’s still the potential for an explosion and fire.
  • Make sure to completely extinguish all cigarette and cigar butts and pipe ashes and dispose of them in a nonflammable container.
  • For the sake of safety and the health of other members of the household, smoke outdoors but don’t flick cigarette or cigar butts into dry vegetation.

Residential Alarm Services in Chicago, IL

We hope you find this information on the common causes of house fires helpful. And for the ultimate in fire safety and protection for either home or business, we hope you’ll consider an alarm system installed by the professionals at Alert Protective Services.

As one of the leading security companies in the Midwest, we’ve been protecting homes like yours for decades. Based on that experience, we know that every home is different, and our alarm experts can design and install a professionally monitored alarm system to meet the specific needs of your household.

For the ultimate in a residential alarm system, contact Alert Protective Services today for a free, no obligation alarm and security quote. Or try our DIY services.

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