Home fires are a leading cause of property damage - and a highly avoidable one.

Common causes of house fires

April 21st, 2016 by

Home fires are a leading cause of property damage - and a highly avoidable one.

Home fires are a leading cause of property damage – and a highly avoidable one. For the most part, these fires are rarely intentional and can usually be attributed to carelessness or simply not paying enough attention.

"From my experience, the five most preventable causes are cooking-related fires, unattended candles, burdened electrical connections, lighting/appliance malfunctions and smoking cigarettes or cigars," Damon Gersh, president and CEO of Maxons Restorations, tells Property Casualty 360. 

Here are few of the most common causes of house fires and how you can prevent them from occurring, according to Readers Digest and Property Casualty 360.

Cooking
Grease fires and other cooking mishaps can easily get out of hand. Never leave a cooking implement on a hot stove unattended, and keep anything combustible – like paper – away from open flame or heat source. Handle all cooking utensils, pots and pan with a flame retardant oven mitt. 

Candles
While a fun source of romantic mood lighting, candles are often lit and then left unattended, which can result in a fire before you even know it. Never leave candles unattended and blow them out every time you leave the room. Candles should be kept at least 12 inches away from anything flammable and contained in fire-proof bases so that, even if they melt down to the wick, they will not cause further damage. 

Cigarettes
In addition to being unhealthy, cigarettes pose another hazard: Smokers are at higher risk of house fires than nonsmokers. Individuals over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of dying in a  house fire caused by smoking materials than those younger than 65, according to Property Casualty 360. This may be in part due to the increased use of medical oxygen and other breathing apparatus by seniors. To remain safe, extinguish all butts in a wide, sturdy ashtray and never smoke in bed. 

Heaters and furnaces
It pays to have your heating equipment inspected annually – not just to maintain an efficient system, but to prevent breakdowns that could lead to fires. Have a certified technician inspect all home heating equipment, keep flammable items like curtains or furniture at least a meter away from heaters and make sure smoke and CO2 detectors have fresh batteries. 

Electrical cords
Whatever appliance you are powering, the chord connecting it to electricity is the part most prone to starting a fire. A cord that is frayed, loose, situated under a rug, or stuck into an overused outlet poses an increased fire hazard. Inspect all cords and do not use anything that appears unsafe. Unplug all holiday lights when you leave your home or overnight as you sleep. 

Dryers
Dryers, according to Property Casualty 360, are involved in nearly 92 percent of all appliance fires. To keep them from posing a hazard, clean out the lint filter before and after each use. Also be sure that the heat vent pipe is unobstructed and that gas and propane dryers don't have any leaks in their fuel lines. 

Lightning
While you can't control when of where lightning strikes, you can make efforts to help mitigate the potential damage. During an electrical storm, unplug and cease using corded electrical devices like TVs, stereo equipment, computers and microwaves. For your own safety, avoid doors and windows as well as plumbing, in case the lighting travels through water pipes. 

Children
Children are naturally curious, especially around fire. Never leave a child unattended near something flammable or with fire-starting materials like matches, lighters or candles. Teach them fire safety techniques at an early age.

Flammable liquids
Paints, gas, solvents, cleaning agents, thinners, adhesives and other raw materials can be fire hazards, even if kept far from a heat source. Fumes can build up over time, causing the liquids to ignite. Store in a cool, ventilated area.

In the event of a fire, homeowners insurance can help pay for repairs and recover what you may have lost. Contact Fundy Mutual today to learn more.