There are over a million residential house fires every year. Many people are aware of the basics of home fire safety, like not keeping burning candles unattended and having a fire extinguisher on hand. But you should also learn how to prevent those fires when the causes are less obvious.

Here is a list of some of the most common unexpected causes of house fires and some things you can do to prevent them from happening.

1. Clothing Dryers

House after fire

34% of house fires caused by dryers are due to improper or infrequent cleaning of the dryer. These types of fires often occur at the end of the year, during fall and winter months.

Be sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re installing your own vent and use only the recommended duct material. If you are unsure about how to properly install any part of the dryer, consult professional help.

If your dryer is installed and getting regular use, clean out the lint filter after every load and the dryer vent every few weeks. Lint has a way of collecting behind and under your dryer, so be diligent about checking all around it when cleaning. As your dryer heats up while operating it can cause the lint to catch fire.

2. Stoves and Ovens

House after fire

Each year there are close to 200,000 reports of house fires started by cooking.

Cooking in the kitchen demands a keen eye and a great deal of responsibility, even though it is a regular occurrence. There should always be a fire extinguisher nearby and everyone in the house should know how to use it. The stove and oven should be kept clean as well.
Built-up grease and splatter can easily ignite when the burners are being lit, or contribute to spreading a fire that has already started. It’s also why you should never leave your pots or pans unattended. There are many variables that result in catastrophe, so stay mindful and close by.

Finally, know how to spot a grease fire and how to put it out. Wisps of smoke and an acrid scent are signs a grease fire is bound to breakout. If the fire has yet to start, immediately turn off the heat source and remove the pot or pan from the source of heat.
If a grease fire has already started you’ll need to do the following:

  • Cover the flames with a pan or cookie sheet
  • Smother it with baking soda or salt
  • Use a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher to extinguish the flames

And remember, never fight a grease fire with water. The water can actually spread the fire by splashing the grease and carry the grease particles within the water itself.

You should also never try to move the pan or pot outside as this can just result in the fire spreading.

Talk over kitchen safety with your children to help them know how to prevent fires and what to do in case of an emergency.

3. Outdated Faulty Wiring and Outlets

Faulty wiring in home catching fire

Be knowledgeable of your home’s electrical capacity, as overloading circuits is easy and can start a fire hidden quickly. If you live in an older house, have a certified electrician check over your wiring and breaker box to make sure everything is up to code and in proper working order.

Extension cords can be another big issue. Never run them under rugs or daisy-chain multiple cords together.

There are many different kinds of extension cords, surge protectors and, power strips. Extension cords without a third grounded hole tend to heat up quickly, are made of cheaper material, and can cause a fire. Only a surge protector will help protect multiple devices from a power surge. A regular power strip, however, has no built-in protection.

For any large appliance, ensure it’s plugged into its own circuit and has a heavy-duty power cable, or appliance grade extension cord.

4 Common House Fire Types

Not all fires are created equal and not all fires can be fought with water. Understanding where and what types of house fires can break out in your home will help you take measures to prevent house fires and follow proper procedures if one does start in your home.

1. Smoking-Related

Trashcans, bedding, and furniture are all common denominators in smoking-related house fires. Avoid smoking when drowsy or tired to avoid falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

Plus, be careful about where ashtrays are located. If emptying an ashtray into the trash with cigarettes still lit fire can ignite. Be sure all cigarettes are completely put out and never leave an ashtray in a spot it can tip over, like on a bed.

The safest option is to only smoke outside of the home and extinguish all cigarettes with sand-filled trays.

2. Kitchen Fires

Microwave caught on fire

Kitchen fires are the most common house fire in the United States. Water, grease, electricity, and heat are all at play in the kitchen. This can lead to disaster if care isn’t given to safely prepare food.

Kitchen fires often start from unattended frying pans, water coming into contact with electricity, and oven and appliance fires.

Often times kitchen fires are grease fires. You’ll need to smother these flames or use salt and baking soda to extinguish them. Never put water on a grease fire as it can lead it to spread further into your home.

3. Heater Fires

Most common in the winter months, heater fires start when a heater overheats. Heaters generally have an automatic shutoff to prevent this from happening. But that doesn’t mean fires can’t start from heaters.

Avoid heater fires by keeping flammable objects three feet away from heaters on all sides. You should also avoid leaving a heater on if you aren’t in the same room.

4. Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are usually caused by one of four things:

  • Faulty appliances
  • Worn wiring or breaker boxes
  • Overuse of outlets past capacity
  • Improper lighting wiring or bulb usage

If you have an older home, have an electrician assess for any faulty wiring. It’s better to put money into preventative measures than recovering from a house fire.

If you do happen to suffer through the trauma of fire large or small, contact us and we will help evaluate, control and rebuild your home immediately.