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Top 7 Causes Of House Fires

The winter season is full of holiday cheer and delicious hot chocolate. Sadly, house fires are also incredibly common during the winter season. The National Fire Protection Association, also known as NFPA, states there are more than 360,000 home structure fires each year and result in about $6 to $8 billion dollars in property damages.

The causes of these fires can vary from leaving food unattended on the stove to forgetting to turn off your holiday lights. From the moment a fire starts to the moment where the house is fully engulfed is usually less than two minutes. This is why it is so important for occupants to get out of the home as soon as possible and to not try and put out a large fire themselves.

The best way to keep yourself protected from a house fire is to prevent one from occurring in the first place. Here are the seven most common causes of house fires as stated by the National Fire Protection Association.


  • 1) Candles

    These types of fires are especially common in December and January during the holiday seasons and have led to an average of 10,630 fires each year. The majority of candle fires are started because they had left them too close to flammable items. Always keep your candles at least 12 inches away from anything flammable and never leave one unattended.


  • 2) Smoking

    Though the number of house fires caused by smoking has decreased over the years, it still causes an average of 17,600 related fires per year that result in around 500 deaths and more than $516 million in property damage. Interestingly, almost half of those who are killed in house fires were 65 or older. If you’re a smoker, make sure to be safe and try to avoid smoking inside the home.


  • 3) Lighting & Electrical

    Lighting and electrical have several different origins including equipment malfunction, overloaded circuit or extension cord, or from an overheated space heater, washer, dryer, or other appliance. According to the NFPA, around 47,700 home structure fires were caused by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction in 2011. With all of the holiday lights here and there, make sure to not leave them on overnight or while your away.


  • 4) Washers & Dryers

    Believe it or not, clothes dryers cause fires more often than you think. In fact in 2010, clothes dryers accounted for 16,800 and costed more than $236 million in property damages. The most common reasons for dryer fires are lint at 29% and clothing at 28%. For washers, poor wire or cable insulation is the major cause. In order to prevent these fires, make sure to always clean lint from the dryer screen and check to ensure that both are in working condition and away from flammable material.


  • 5) Lightning

    Though most types of house fires are common in winter, lightening is the leading cause of house fires during the months of June, July, and August. From 2007 to 2011, Lightning strikes have caused an average of 22,600 fires per year. If you are caught in a thunderstorm, make sure to avoid water and electrical equipment.


  • 6) Kids Playing With Fire

    Sadly, this is more common than we would like to admit. The NFPA states that children cause an average of 7,100 house fires per year and around $172 million in property damages. July is an especially active month for these types of fires and male children tend to be the most likely to do so. Make sure your child knows the importance of fire safety at an early age and avoid leaving matches and lighters within the reach of your children.


  • 7) Christmas Trees

    Much like candle fires, Christmas tree fires are more common during the holiday season, with 43% occurring in December and 39% in January. On average, 230 fires are attributed each year to Christmas trees and are more likely to be serious due to the flammability of a dry tree. In order to prevent your holiday from going up in flames, make sure to turn off your tree lights at night and check lights for any shorts or other electrical issues before putting them on the tree.