9 Common Causes of Home Fires and How to Stay Safe

Posted On: September 22nd, 2021

While all fires are bad news, fires around the home can be particularly devastating. Within minutes everything that you treasure and have worked hard for can be lost. When you throw in the fact that home is where families live together, and the consequences don’t bear thinking about. The best way to avoid the unthinkable is to address it head-on.

Today we are looking at 9 common causes of home fires. We’ll also offer some tips on how to keep safe.


What is the Leading Cause of Fire in the United States?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause of fires occurred due to cooking-related incidents, and by a very large margin. Cooking fires accounted for 49% of all fires in the home in the years 2014 – 2018! That’s just about half of all fires in the home!

Want the numbers in real terms?

Again, according to the NFPA, fire departments responded to 353,100 fires in the home nationwide during the same period! Considering that the USA has a population of around 328 million, that means that 1 in every 100 people will be affected by a fire in the home!


9 Common Causes of Home Fires

The trick to managing risk is to be aware of what those risks are in the first place. Here are 9 common causes of fire in your home that you need to be aware of.


1. Cooking

Seeing as this is responsible for half the fires, we thought this should top the list. The kitchen is full of fire hazards. For a start, you have naked flames or open heat sources like hobs. Add to the fact that flammable liquids are also difficult to extinguish, like grease and oils, and you’ve got the perfect storm.

It is easy to get distracted in the kitchen. It only takes a moment’s inattention for a situation to turn ugly.

How to stay safe:

  • Never leave pans or cooking equipment unattended when it is on.
  • Consider investing in a suitable fire extinguisher and have it within easy reach.
  • Discuss a fire escape plan.


2. Smoking

While cooking accounts for most fires, smoking in the home resulted in the most deaths. Cigarettes, by their very nature, don’t tend to go out easily. Combine this with the fact that many fall asleep with a cigarette in their hand, and you can see how a blaze can start.

How to stay safe:

  • Avoid smoking in the home if possible.
  • Use a sealed ashtray or take your butts outside.
  • Avoid smoking in any area where you might be inclined to fall asleep.


3. Heating

Heating features in most homes, yet it is a big fire hazard. Electric heaters are a particular source of trouble. They are often left on for extended periods, and it can be hard to realize the cumulative effect of convection.

How to stay safe:

  • Don’t leave heaters unattended.
  • Ensure the area at the front of the heater is kept clear.
  • Never cover a heater.


4. Electrical Fires

Sometimes you don’t actively have to do anything for a fire to break out in your home. Electrical fires can be caused by lots of things. This can include substandard wiring, overloading sockets, or even a household appliance blowing a gasket at the worst possible time.

If you live in an old house, you might find that rodents can cause electrical fires. They chew through electrical cables and can cause shorts, creating a fatal spark.

How to stay safe:

  • If in doubt, get your wiring inspected by a professional.
  • Avoid plugging in too many appliances into one socket.
  • Avoid using old equipment that has seen better days.


5. Solid Fuel Burners

While roaring fires give images of comfort and safety, they can often be anything but. Wood fires can spit burning sap and embers, and coal fires are prone to pieces rolling out. The fire doesn’t have to be roaring either. A single ember can cause untold damage.

How to stay safe:

  • Never leave an indoor fire burning.
  • Consider using a fireguard.
  • Keep the area in front of the fire free of flammable material.


6. Naked Flames

Candles are a particular danger in the home. While they look (and often smell) really good, they can often lead to a fire. Windows are a particular favorite to put a few candles. Yet, near windows, you often find drapes and curtains, some of which can be flammable.

How to stay safe:

  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Keep candles away from flammable materials.
  • Ensure they are definitely out before retiring in the evening.


7. Outdoor Grills

Barbecues and grills are good fun. However, if placed too near the home, they can become a source of ignition. Coal grills are a particular hazard. They can shower a large area with sparks.

How to stay safe:

  • Cook a good distance away from the home.
  • Pay attention to the prevailing wind.
  • Keep a bucket of water close by. Better wet food than a home fire!


8. Festive Lights

Around the holidays, we all love to make our home look cozy with lights. However, they are often cheaply manufactured. Depending on the type, they can get pretty hot if left on for long periods.

How to stay safe:

  • Choose LED lights where possible.
  • Never leave lights on unattended.


9. Children

We were going to say ‘arson’, but this isn’t the right term. Most kids are fascinated by fire. They’ll think nothing of striking and discarding a match or playing with candles or lighters. Often the fear of ‘getting in trouble’ prevents them from reporting a fire they may have caused through curiosity. By the time you are aware, it could be too late.

How to stay safe:

  • Never leave sources of ignition where little hands can play with them.
  • Encourage your children to always report a fire.
  • Include your children in a discussion about a fire escape plan.



Fires around the home are a serious business. Fraker Fire can offer expert guidance on all fire risks around your home and offer expert consultation and strategies to deal with them. We have extensive knowledge of fire suppression systems, escape planning, and much more.

Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Posted in: Tags:

Comments are closed here.