There are an estimated 360,000 house fires in the United States each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause around 3,500 deaths and over $11 billion in property damage.

While there are many potential causes of house fires, some are more common than others. In this post, we'll take a look at the most common causes of house fires and what you can do to prevent them from happening in your home.


House fires are one of the most frightening things that can happen to a family. They can happen quickly, spread rapidly, and cause devastating damage.

House fires can be caused by a number of things, from faulty electrical wiring to careless smoking. But one of the most common causes is simply leaving things like paper or clothing too close to a heat source.

That's why it's so important to be careful about things like candles and space heaters. It's also why it's important to have working smoke detectors in your home because when it comes to house fires, every second counts.

1. Kitchen Fires

With cooking as the leading cause of house fires, a kitchen fire can be a scary and dangerous event. By understanding the dangers of a kitchen fire, you can take steps to prevent one from happening in your home.

If you’re cooking, ensure you stay in the kitchen and never leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven. Appliances such as air fryers, toasters, and hot plates can pose a fire hazard if left unattended, as well.

Always unplug the appliance when you are not using it and keep it away from flammable materials. If you must leave the area while the appliance is in use, set a timer to remind you to check on it. Never leave an appliance on overnight or while you are away from home.

Kitchen fires can be prevented if you’re vigilant while cooking. However, if a fire does start…

  • Quickly turn off the stove or oven and try to smother the flames with a pot lid or towel
  • Never use water to try to put out a grease fire
  • If the fire is out of control, evacuate immediately and call 911

2. Heating Devices

Despite advances in fire safety, heating equipment remains a leading cause of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment was the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries between 2015 and 2019. It was also the third leading cause of home fire deaths and direct property damage.

Some common types of heating equipment involved in these fires were space heaters and electric blankets. Heating device fires often occur in the winter when people use their heating equipment more frequently.

To reduce the risk of a fire, it’s good practice to…

  • Have your heating system serviced by a qualified professional once a year
  • Make sure that nothing is blocking your vents or chimney
  • Keep combustible materials like paper and clothing away from your heater
  • Never leave your heater on when you're not home

Taking these precautions can help keep your home safe from a potentially devastating fire.

3. Smoking

Another common fire hazard in the home is smoking. According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States, accounting for almost one-third of all fire fatalities.

Fires that are started by smoking are also more likely to be deadly, as they often occur while the resident is asleep. This is usually the result of smoking in bed or on a sofa, where there’s a greater risk of the fire spreading and causing severe injuries or even death.

To help prevent these types of fires, it’s essential to…

  • Never smoke in bed or on upholstered furniture
  • Always use a deep ashtray
  • Ensure that cigarettes and ashes are fully extinguished before leaving them unattended

By taking these simple precautions, you can help to keep your home safe from smoking fire hazards.

4. Electrical

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2015-2019, electrical distribution and lighting equipment were involved in an estimated average of 46,820 home structure fires per year.

These fires caused an annual average of 420 civilian deaths, 1,370 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage. The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home structure fires was faulty, degraded, or damaged electrical wiring (26%) and equipment (25%).

To help prevent these types of fires…

  • Have a licensed electrician check your home’s wiring and equipment regularly
  • Check cords and plugs periodically for signs of wear and tear
  • Replace cords and plugs as needed

Taking these simple precautions can help keep your family safe from the devastating effects of an electrical house fire.

5. Candles

Candles are often left unattended; if they burn out of control, they can cause extensive damage. Candle fires are most likely to occur on Christmas Day, New Year’s, and Christmas Eve.

To prevent candle fires, it’s essential to…

Keep candles away from flammable objects, such as curtains, bedding, and paper

Extinguish candles when they’re not in use

Use battery-operated candles, when possible, which are less likely to cause a fire

By taking these precautions, you can help to prevent candle fires and keep your home safe.

6. Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations are the last common cause of house fires. Christmas tree lights and other decorations can become threats if not wired correctly. In addition, live trees are highly flammable when they become too dry.

Faulty wiring is another major contributing factor to holiday fires. Lights not correctly installed or maintained can start fires when they come into contact with flammable materials. Finally, candles are a popular holiday decoration but can also be a fire hazard if they’re not used properly.

In order to avoid Christmas decor disasters, be sure to…

  • Check your Christmas tree water level daily
  • Check your lighting and wiring every year
  • Keep candles in secure holders and away from flammable materials

You can help keep your home safe this holiday season by taking some simple precautions.

House fires are a scary reality, but they don’t have to be. Following these simple tips can help keep your family and home safe from the leading causes of house fires.

And for extra peace of mind with the best homeowners insurance coverage for the best price, start by speaking to a SimplyIOA agent at 833.872.4467 or get a homeowners insurance quote online now.