Fireman Reveals The Biggest Causes Of House Fires

By Carole 1 year ago

1. Candles - left unattended 

Image source / RedditEvery candle comes with a warning that it should never be left unattended, once lit.  Those people who choose to ignore this or simply forget, do so at their own risk as many fires are caused this way, especially around the festive period.  Firefighters say too many unnecessary blazes are causd this way.

2. Electric Blankets - faulty wiring

Image source / Oxford News

Experts report that many thousands of house fires are caused by electric blankets every year.  The fires typically occur due to manufacturing errors such as improperly installed wiring or a faulty control unit.  Leaving the blanket on all night, when instructions advise otherwise, is another unfortunate cause.

3. Laptop Charging - generates more heat than you think

Image source / Youtube
The charging of electronic appliances generates  more heat than you would imagine. When phone chargers and laptops are charged on flammable surfaces or sheets, the heat can build up very quickly and lead to a fire.  There is an air intake section under the laptop but this can be covered if the device is left, say, on top of a bed.

4. Leaving Pan On The Stove - it overheats

Image source Reddit
Your pan can can easily catch fire when the cooking oil on the surface of the pan gets extremely hot.  When it is heated, the oil will start boiling and after a while it begins smoking.  This is the most dangerous time as the smoke will eventually turn into a fire.

5. Overloading Washing Machine - plus build up of lint

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You should never overload your washing machine or dryer.  Packing items down tight, to create more room in the machine, is also a very bad idea.  The build up of lint this causes can set off a spark and before you know it, the appliance is on fire.

6. Hair Tools - dryers and straighteners

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Anyone who has grazed an ear or neck while styling their hair knows how hot  that hair tools can become.  Unplugging them after use and leaving them to cool on a heat resistant surface is essential.  If you forget and the beauty tool is left close to a flammable object, there is a sure risk of a fire occurring.

7. Holiday Decorations - Xmas is high risk

Image source / KRTV
It's not just candles that cause tragic fires during the holiday season. Christmas tree lights and other decorations are also the obvious culprits. Live trees that aren't watered correctly and left to dry out, are a very easy target for incineration by hot lights.

8. Smoking - falling asleep with lit cigarette

Image source / Wales Online
This is one of the most common causes of house fires - negligent smoking habits.  Falling asleep while smoking can result in the bed chair or sofa catching fire.  Another avoidable hazard is discarding hot ashes into a trash can where they can easily ignite.

9. Clutter - full of combustibles

Image source / The Telegraph
If you are a hoarder and your home is full of clutter, you are putting yourself at risk of a fire breaking out.  A build up of grease and dust around the crowded areas, together with poor ventilation, is asking for trouble.  There is plenty opportunity in these surroundings for a fire to occur.

10. Chemicals And Gasses - waiting to escape

Image source eOnline
Home fires can easily be caused by sources of natural gas or propane gas. All it takes is an errant spark combined with a small leak and this can create a combustible situation.  Improperly mixed household chemicals may also trigger combustion which is why it is so important to conduct such activity outside the home.

11. Lightening - stormy fire

Image source / The Mirror
Lightning fires commonly occur during the summer months when early evening storms are at their peak.  Homes that are in heavily wooded area can be extra vulnerable to lightning strikes that can set the surrounding landscape on fire.

12. Barbecue Grill - out of control flames

Image source / The Mail
This is a big issue in the summer months.  A barbecue grill can lead to uncontrollable flame in a few different ways, such as proximity to combustibles like dry grass or because there is a gas leak.  You should always keep an eye on the grill.

13. Electrical Systems and Devices - unknown danger to homeowners

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Any device that uses electrical power could potentially start a fire. Overheated lighting equipment tops this list.  Shoddy electrical work in a home with poorly connected circuits, loose wires and/or improper grounding, is also a danger.

14. Children - danger of being inquisitive

Image source Scary Mommy
Small children playing with fire or matches inside the home is one of the main causes of house fires. Older kids who understand what fire can do but want to see what happens, is another main cause.  Parents should speak to their kids about the dangers before they start to experiment, with possible dire consequences.

15. Normal Fires That Get Out Of Control - doesn't take long

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Sometimes it can’t be helped even when we do everything correctly,  One of the most common causes of house fires is a single stray ember from a breaking log, escaping from the wood fire heater, landing on the carpet and setting off a fire.

16. Flammable Liquids - if they get near heat

Image source / Canadian News
If you are guilty of having any flammable liquids in the home or in the garage, such as petrol, kerosene or methylated spirits, you must keep them away from heat sources and check the labels before storing.  If not, it doesn't take much for a fire to start.

17. Space Heaters - not enough clearance around it

Image source / WHSV
As obvious as it sounds, a space heater must have sufficient clearance around it so there are no flammable materials close by.  This means both space and air - ventilation holes on the heater must not be blocked.  Also be aware that fires start in closets where heaters have been placed and forgotten about.

18. Clothing Catching Fire - sleeves flapping over flames

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When cooking, be sure to roll up baggy sleeves on your shirt and wear a securely fastened apron over billowy shirts or pants to prevent singeing. Your clothes could catch fire without you realising it at first and it could end up being very nasty if the flames spread on to other flammable surfaces.

19. Heating Your Home With The Oven - bad idea

Image source / Quora
You may not be aware that leaving your oven on could cause a fire. It’s not uncommon for individuals to leave their ovens on overnight while they are sleeping, sometimes in an effort to keep the house warm. This can lead to fires because the heat from the oven builds up and will eventually ignite something flammable.

20. Overloading Extension Leads - cords could burn up

Image source / YouTube
Overloading plug-ins causes fire hazards in your house.  Too many things are plugged in at once and this can cause the cords to burn up.  Smoke and then fire can then come from the plug-in itself.  It doesn't take long for that to manifest into a full blown house fire.

21. Oil Heaters - if oil leaks out

Image source / Heater recall
These space heaters are very effective at heating homes economically and most Americans have at least one in their house.  The fuel tank which heats the oil and transfers the energy to a fan.  If the oil leaks out, it could start a fire and can spread very fast.

22. Plug-In Fragrances - nice odor but nasty consequences

Image source / ABC News
Whereas there is no solid evidence that plug-in fragrances are a fire risk, a leading fire expert has revealed that there have been a number of nasty incidents caused by this product.  Always remember to unplug them at the end of the evening or if you are going to be away from the home for a day or longer.  Better to be safe than sorry.

23. Fireworks - landing on tinder dry area in yard

Image source / ABC7 News
Almost all fireworks pose a fire hazard and if there hasn't been any significant rainfall for a while, things are going to be very dry.  A single errant firecracker in your back yard could ignite the driest grass and easily start a fire. It doesn't take long for things to get out of control and creating a disaster.

24. Arson - enough said

Image source / Kyiv Post
Unfortunately, arson attacks are on the rise in the States, all malicious but some being planned as a small fire (still arson) but getting out of control. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines arson as "any wilful or malicious burning or attempting to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc."

25. Insurance Claim - you won't get away with it

Image source / You Talk Insurance
Short of cash and looking for an easy way to make money with the minimum of effort.  Well, don't bother if the plan is to start a fire in your home to damage goods and fixtures and fittings and make a good few bucks on an insurance claim.  Fire experts will identify the source of the fire and you will be in massive trouble.

26. Gas Leak - build-up leads to explosion

Image source / ABC News
Because some gases do not have a specific odor, it may be hard to tell if your home has a gas leak.  The first you know is when there is an explosion caused by the build up and the whole home goes up in smoke.  These are pretty rare events but our expert advises everyone to have their appliances checked regularly - to save their lives.

27. No Working Smoke Alarm - too little too late

Image source / Fire Industry Association
It's so easy to put up smoke alarms in your home.  They are cheap to purchase and having a couple, one for upstairs and one for downstairs (if you are in a house) can save your life.  The big issue here is that they need to have working batteries in them and so many people let them run out and forget to replace them.  Sort it TODAY before your home is the next one to go up in flames.

28. Water Heaters - lack of maintenance

Image source / Management One
Proper maintenance and safety precautions can decrease the risk of your water heater creating a fire - drastically and do not store flammable materials or liquids near the water heater.  Just because you have space in that area to store stuff, be mindful of what you put in there.

29. Kitchen Grease - can start a fire without open flame

Image source / FireRescue
Kitchen grease fires can start even when there is no exposure to an open flame.  Spontaneous combustion of grease occurs at about 600 degrees Fahrenheit and it happens.  Our expert revealed that firefighters are called out to such instances almost every single day - don't be another one of their numbers.

30. Burning Trash - exposure to smoke can be fatal

Image source / ACS Publication
We are informed that "Burning solid waste could generate many pollutants including dioxin, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hexachlorobenzene and ash." The smoke these produce can cause you life threatening symptoms so beware.

31. Not Emptying Lint From Your Dryer

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Not only does a build up of lint in your dryer mean it's performing less efficiently and taking longer to dry your clothes, but it's also a house fire risk. If you don't clean your dryer, or empty out the lint, on a regular basis, it can risk a fire. You should empty the lint every time you use it before the next cycle!

32. Top Tips For Preventing House Fires: Check Your Smoke Alarms Regularly

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The best way to do this is just to set a quick reminder alarm on your phone to check every month. Otherwise, it's likely you'll forget! Then you can check they're in working order and whether the batteries need replacing, so that you're always safe and get into the habit of checking regularly.

33. Never Leave Your Christmas Lights On When You Go Out

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It can be tempting to leave your tree lights - and any other festive lights - you have on while you nip out, because you think you'll only be 20 minutes at the store, so it'll be fine. But if a fire was to start, 20 minutes is enough time to set your house on fire! It's not worth the risk, so just switch them off when you're not in.

34. Now's The Time To Quit Smoking

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If there was ever a good time to quit smoking, it's when you're already thinking about how to keep your home protected from a fire! If you give up smoking then there's less of a risk you'll accidentally start a fire with a cigarette. So it's a win win for your home and for your health really.

35. Or, At Least Don't Smoke On Soft Furnishings

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Of course, you don't have to quit smoking if you don't want to, because you can still keep your home safe as long as you're being extra careful with cigarettes. It's a good idea to at least not smoke in bed with such flammable sheets, and also avoid smoking on soft furnishings like a fabric couch or chair.

36. Teach Your Kids Fire Safety

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Kids are one of the worst risks for home fires when they start messing, poking and prodding, so it's only going to be a good thing if you teach them about fire safety. Take the time to let them know how to stay safe in the home, and what they should and shouldn't be doing in terms of fire and flammable risks!

37. Think About Getting A Fire Blanket And Extinguisher For Your Home

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Things like fire extinguishers aren't just reserved for the workspace - it's never going to be a bad thing to have one in your home. If you have a big property, it's a good idea to have an extinguisher for every level of your house so there's only one nearby. A fire blanket for the kitchen is also a great idea for protecting from things like stove fires.

38. Get Into The Habit Of Closing Doors

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Fire spreads quickly when there are open doors throughout the property. If you get into the habit of closing doors behind you, it'll mean less time or risk of a fire spreading if one happens to start. This is most important to do at night when you go to bed, in case one starts during the night. Make sure all doors are closed!

39. Check Your Electrical Cords Regularly

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Just give your extension cords and plugs a quick once over whenever you're going to plug something in, or on a regular basis. If you're not making an active effort to do that - especially if you have leads always plugged in that you never see, like ones stuffed behind your desk - then any faulty wires and plug issues will be missed!

40. Don't Leave Things On Standby

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It's so easy to do this these days, especially with the amount of home tech products around the house. Leaving things on standby not only makes fire more of a risk if they're plugged in all the time, but it can cost you extra on your electricity bill, too - so why not switch off completely and save yourself both risk and money?

41. Have An Escape Plan In Place

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No matter what you do to stay safe, there's still a risk of a fire breaking out. One of the best things you can do is put an escape plan in place for you and anyone you live with, so you all know what you'd do in the event of a fire. Where would be safe for you to exit? What would you do if the main exit was blocked?

42. Keep Lighters And Matches Out Of Reach Of Children

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It's for the best if you keep matches and lighters high up out of the reach of children - better yet in locked cupboards or boxes in case they still find a very long stick and are able to knock them off a high shelf! Do what you need to do to keep those sticky fingers away from a box of matches!

43. Declutter Your Home

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Not only is this a great idea for your own sense of wellbeing and cleanliness, but it'll mean less flammable materials in your home. As well as that, it'll also reduce the trip or door-block risk, if you're trying to get out from a home fire and you have a pile of clutter blocking a door or making you trip over!

44. Try To Buy More High-Quality Items

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We know how expensive it can be to furnish the home, and sometimes those cheap second hand items are too good to pass up. When it comes to electrical items like TVs and appliances, just make sure to always double check the quality. If it looks seriously suss, try to buy brand new items that are less likely to break or cause electrical issues!

45. Consider Moving

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This one might seem like a huge leap, but if you've already been thinking about getting a new place, certain properties can be less of a fire risk when it comes to neighbors. If you live in a high block of flats, or even in a terraced property, you're at more of a risk of home fires spreading that start in your neighbor's homes that are out of your control. Living in a house instead of a flat, or a semi-detached/detached property, will lessen the risk.

46. Extinguish Your Fireplace Completely

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It's so tempting to just leave your fireplace alone when it looks like the fire's gone out and there are barely any embers, especially if you're ready for bed. But it's worth extinguishing your fire completely if you've had one going, even if it looks like it's completely gone out. Don't leave it unattended if there are still some embers or fuel in there!

47. Use Flameless LED Candles Instead

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If you like candles for the light source and ambience, you might be happy to switch to LED candles instead that get rid of the flame risk altogether! If you're not bothered about scented candles then this could be the solution for you. You still get all the flickering cozy fun, without the fire risk.

48. Get A Carbon Monoxide Detector

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It's important to have working smoke detectors in your home, but it's also important to have a carbon monoxide detector. This is also a must-have if you have a wood-burning stove. You should get a detector and check the battery on it as regularly as you check your smoke alarms - so just do a full sweep!

49. Short Blinds Might Be Better Than Long Curtains

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If you want to be extra careful, and you're not overly fussed about having curtains, having a short blind made from metal or wood which is fitted inside your window can be a better option than very long and flammable curtains - especially in small homes where you might have an open flame near the curtains, like candles or your actual fireplace!

50. Keep An Eye On Pets

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Especially cats who like to climb on things they shouldn't, they could be a huge risk for knocking over candles or even being a flame risk themselves if they move their tail near the fireplace! And obviously when it comes to younger pets that might not be housetrained yet, you have the risk of them spilling their water or urinating on electrical sockets, so have a good plan in place for pet-watching!

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