Most Common Causes of House Fires (and How to Prevent Them)
The County of Los Angeles Fire Department responds to thousands of house fires annually, causing around $100 million in fire damage losses each year.
Suffice it to say, homeowners should try to prevent fire damage to their own home (or business). Here are the five most common causes of house fires, and tips for preventing a serious fire damage loss to your property.
Candles look and smell great. They're also a serious risk, the fifth leading cause of house fires nationwide. Avoid a fire damage disaster by following these candle safety tips:
- Keep candles at least a foot from anything flammable
- Use proper candle holders and place them on a flat, sturdy surface
- Blow out candles before they burn out or before you go to sleep
Though per capita cigarette consumption is lower than it's been in over a hundred years, over 35 million Americans still smoke. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes ignited over 17 thousand home fires nationwide in 2014.
Best way to prevent home fire damage from smoking? Quit. Otherwise, smoke outside, ensure butts and ashes are fully doused and keep lighters and matches away from children.
While only the third leading cause of house fires, electrical fires are the most costly in terms of property damage. At an annual cost of $1.4 billion, avoiding electrical fires saves both lives and money.
Always call a qualified, licensed electrician to install or repair wiring, outlets or electrical appliances. Some signs of a potential electrical problem in your home include:
- Frequent blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers
- Outlets that are discolored or warm to the touch
- Flickering or dimming lights
And remember, water and electricity do not mix! If you discover water damage near an outlet or electrical appliance, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood right away. We'll help clean up the water to ensure it doesn't create a mold problem or fire risk in the future.
Obviously our dry heat makes the use of space heaters infrequent here in Los Angeles. Given that space heaters are a leading cause of house fire deaths nationwide, that's a good thing!
Still, our winter nights do get cold, so you may be supplementing your source of warmth with a space heater.
If so, be sure to keep anything flammable, like blankets or clothing, at least three feet away from the unit. And turn off the heater before you turn in for the night.
Yes, it may get a little cold in your bedroom. But that's better than waking up to a blaring smoke alarm and a house fire sparked by your space heater.
We're cooking at home more often right now, which is great way to save money. But cooking is also the leading cause of home fires. We even wrote a separate post with tips for preventing kitchen fire damage.
But the most important thing is to be vigilant and focus your attention on the oven and stove. Keep flammable materials like dish towels and pot holders away from open flames. And don't stray to far from the kitchen while you're cooking.
What to Do if You Have a House Fire
If you have a fire extinguisher handy, you could try to put out the blaze yourself. Just be sure the type of extinguisher is appropriate for the type of fire. Different fuel sources require different methods of suppression.
If you're unable to contain the flames, get to safety and call 911 right away. House fires are no joke. Your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, is the most important thing.
Once it's out, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood as soon as possible. Our fire damage restoration specialists work quickly to mitigate property damage from fire, smoke, soot and water. The sooner we're called, the sooner we can help clean up from house fires "Like it never even happened."