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Common Causes of House Fires

House fires are scary and tragic events affecting many Americans every year. Make sure you are taking the proper steps to prevent these accidents from happening to you. Read Klotzman Property Damage Law’s blog to learn more.

What is a house fire & how often do they occur?

A house fire (or home fire) would include any fire damage to residential property due to an accident. Most insurance plans offer coverage for fire damage but may differ in how much coverage is offered. So, it is crucial that you look over your plan to determine what is covered for your property.

Every year there are around half a million building fires, with residential properties amounting to almost seventy-five percent of them. Over 1700 civilian fatalities due to house fires have been reported this year. Therefore, it is imperative that you take measures to prevent fires in your home.

What causes house fires?

House fires can be devastating for you and your family, so taking the necessary steps to prevent them is important. Let’s cover the top 5 leading causes of house fires.

Cooking

Cooking accidents caused nearly half of the reported house fires from 2015 to 2019. These fires often happen due to ingredients or other cooking materials igniting, but they can be caused by leaving items cooking unattended or mishandling hot oil.

If a fire starts in a pot or pan, turn the burner off and cover the dish with a metal lid or cookie sheet. This step will prevent the flames from getting more oxygen and snuff it out. If you cannot cover the dish and turn the burner off, get everyone out of the house and call your local fire department as soon as possible. 

Heaters

Electric heaters, fireplaces, and electric blankets can also lead to house fires. These items should be used with care, as misuse can cause them to overheat and catch on fire. Ensure that the area around your heater is clear and placed away from flammable materials

It is also essential not to leave heating objects plugged in for an extended period of time. Most space heaters and electric blankets come with automatic shut-off safety measures in place, but it’s still best that you unplug these items after each use. 

Electrical

On average, around forty-seven thousand house fires are caused by electrical malfunctions or failures each year. These fires are often caused by old or faulty outlets, so if you are concerned about your outlets, it can be a good idea to get them inspected by an electrician. 

After a house is ten years old, electricians recommend an inspection of the outlets and electrical panel every 3-5 years. If your home has GFCI outlets, you can run a test with a lamp by plugging it in and pressing the “test” button. Upon pressing that, the current should stop running to the lamp, turning it off. Restore power to it by pressing the “reset” button. If the “test” button does not turn the lamp off or the “reset” button does not turn the lamp back on, call an electrician to get the outlet replaced. These types of tests should be conducted every six months.

Smoking

Smoking cigars or cigarettes can cause fires when used or discarded carelessly. There are a reported 500 civilian deaths yearly due to smoking-caused house fires. Take the time to ensure anyone you know who smokes is practicing safe disposal practices like soaking cigarette butts in water before throwing them away. 

Additionally, make sure to only smoke in safe, well-ventilated areas. Never smoke in bed or around flammable materials, as any ashes that come off could ignite that material. When using ashtrays, use ones with a wide base to ensure they won’t tip over or spill hot ashes.

Candles

Candles are used in millions of homes for light and decoration but can still be dangerous. They are reported to be responsible for thousands of house fires each year. 

According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, by following just three steps, roughly 85 percent of candle-related fires can be prevented. The steps are:

  1. Never leave a burning candle unattended
  2. Make sure nothing flammable is near the candle
  3. Keep candles out of reach of children and pets

Look around your home and ensure that all of your candles follow these guidelines. If you struggle to extinguish your candles properly, you can set a timer to remind yourself to blow them out or purchase a candle holder with an automatic shut-off lid

How can you prevent home fires?

Preventing home fires is a crucial step in protecting your property. Here are three ways you can protect your home from this type of accident.

Smoke Alarms

If you don’t already have them, install smoke alarms on every level of your property, and make sure to test them once a month. When using non-lithium batteries, replace the batteries in each detector every six months. 

Wiring

Ensure no cords in your home are frayed or damaged. If they are, replace them quickly. Do not hide or cover wires with any flammable materials. If you need more outlets, buy surge protectors instead of power strips to guarantee your electronics won’t overload in a power surge and start a fire. 

Keep an eye on your appliances.

Finally, staying aware of heavier-duty gas and electronic devices is key to staying safe. After cooking, verify that the oven and stovetop are shut off properly. If you get space heaters or electric blankets to keep you warm, buy ones with automatic shut-off features for that extra level of protection. 

Speak to the professionals

House fires are serious accidents that can leave lasting effects on many Americans. If you have experienced this type of accident, it is critical to take action. We can help you determine your options based on your insurance coverage. We will investigate, negotiate, and litigate your case to get you the results you deserve.

Schedule your free case review today with your Florida property damage attorney. When insurance companies fail, Klotzman Property Damage Law succeeds.