Of all fires reported in the U.S. annually, 27% occur in the home. Tragically, these residential fires are also behind the majority of fire-related deaths.
The National Fire Protection Agency estimates between 350,000 and 400,000 house fires cause nearly $8 billion in damages each year. These alarming statistics make it crucial for homeowners to educate themselves on the common causes of fires and learn how to reduce their exposure to the greatest extent possible.
Of course, some fires such as arson or wildfires occur for reasons beyond a homeowner’s control. Still, learning where and when a house fire is most likely to ignite can protect you, your family, and your home from potential harm. In this post, we take a look at the most common reasons for residential fires and the steps you can take to control or manage them in your Central Florida home.
Top 5 Causes Of House Fires in Central Florida
They can start in an instant and, left unchecked, can wreak havoc as they rage through a house. What makes managing house fires challenging is that they don’t all begin and burn in precisely the same way. Gas and oil fires are vastly different from electrical fires caused by malfunctioning wiring and home appliances. One thing’s for certain, though, and that is, no matter how a house fire begins, it’s a frightening experience.
If your Central Florida home has suffered damage from a house fire, a professional fire damage restoration and remediation company can help with fire damage removal and other recovery steps to return your home and life to normal as quickly as possible.
Now on to the top causes of fire damage:
Cooking Accidents and Mishaps
Kitchens may be the heart of the home, but they’re also the number one place fires occur in a house, making up nearly half of all reported home fires. About two-thirds of these fires start when food or cooking materials ignite. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of these fires tend to occur on major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the eve of Thanksgiving
If you experience an out-of-control cooking fire in your kitchen:
- Help anyone inside safely vacate the house. Once you’re sure everyone’s out, close the door behind you and call 9-1-1.
- You can try extinguishing a small grease fire by sliding a pot lid over the pan or pot and turning off the burner. Leave the cover on until the pan is thoroughly cooled, or the fire could reignite.
- If the fire occurs in the oven, keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat.
- Never throw water on a kitchen fire! It only splatters the fire around, spreading it on counters and walls.
- Use a fire extinguisher to put out an oil fire.
To keep your Central Florida home’s kitchen safe from fire:
- Stay alert and don’t use the cooktop or oven if you’re tired or have been drinking alcohol.
- Don’t leave the kitchen unattended, and be sure to set a timer to remind you something’s cooking, even if you’re in the room.
- Use common sense; you should keep dish towels, potholders, oven mitts, plastic bags or wrapping, and food packaging away from any appliance that produces heat or flames. Curtains too can spread flames to the wall and ceiling near the stove quickly, so ensure they are kept away from the stovetop.
As most cooking-related fires happen during frying, make sure everyone knows how to cook with oil safely:
- If the oil in a pot or pan starts to smell, or if wisps of smoke appear, the oil is too hot. Immediately turn the burner off and place the pan or pot on a cool burner or trivet.
- Heat oil slowly to the temperature needed for frying and sauteing.
- To avoid oil splashing out of the pot or pan, add ingredients slowly so oil on the stovetop doesn’t ignite.
- Always turn off the cooktop when you’re through.
Fortunately, you can avoid the majority of cooking fires simply by practicing caution in the kitchen and being as careful as possible. Experts recommend keeping a kitchen fire extinguisher close at hand, too. For more information, download the NFPA’s handy cooking infographic and cooking safety tip sheet.
Following close behind cooking fires are heating-related blazes. About 50,000 such fires occur each year, and they result in 500 deaths, 1,300 injuries, and more than a billion dollars in direct property damage.
The #1 culprit for home heating fire deaths is portable space heaters. However, heating fires don’t necessarily occur because of faulty equipment, but because homeowners don’t clean the heating equipment, including chimneys. They also tend to leave heating equipment too near to combustible items like upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, and bedding. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that almost half of home heating fires occur in the colder months of December, January, and February.
To protect your family and Central Florida home from heating equipment-related fires:
- They might be convenient, but it’s essential to keep portable space heaters in designated areas where they can’t be easily knocked over. Make sure they’re not too close to walls or furniture, where they pose a real hazard.
- Keep anything flammable at a minimum of three feet away from any type of heating equipment, including fireplaces, wood stoves, furnaces, and portable heaters.
- Schedule regular, yearly inspections of chimneys and heating equipment with a qualified professional.
These simple safety tips and precautions will help you prevent most heating fires, but to learn even more valuable suggestions, download the NFPA’s free heating safety tip sheet.
Electrical Wiring and Electronics
Number three on our list of top causes of house fires in Central Florida is faulty electrical equipment and wiring. These fire-related hazards account for around ten percent of reported annual home fires. Electrical fires cause in excess of 1,100 injuries, nearly 500 deaths, and are responsible for about $1.4 billion in direct property damage each year. Wiring and electric-powered equipment account for the majority of electrical fires. Plugs and cords, especially extension cords, are behind approximately one percent, or 3,5000, of home fires.
Electrical wiring fires are mainly seen in older homes with outdated or faulty wiring. Here’s what to look for in your Central Florida home.
- A buildup of dust and debris which can affect your home’s electrical system performance.
- Bare wires near insulation.
A quick and easy way to check for accumulated dust in your electrical system is to remove an outlet cover or light switch cover and check for dust in the wall and around the wiring. If there’s significant dust buildup, have a professional inspect your entire system. They can clean the system out and protect your home against electrical fires.
Electronic equipment can also spark a fire, particularly when you overload outlets with extension or power cords. To prevent an electronics-related fire in your home, make sure each piece of major equipment is adequately ventilated and has a dedicated plug. If an appliance like a toaster or microwave sparks or smokes when you plug it in or turn it on, take it as a sign the appliance is not safe to use.
If you want to keep your home as safe as possible from an electrical fire, experts recommend you have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including electrical inspections. You can also check out two safety tip sheets from the NFPA that cover indoor electrical and outdoor electrical precautions.
Cigarettes, cigars, and pipes cause thousands of house fires each year that result in more than $400 million in direct property damage. Starting from something as simple as a lit cigarette or lighter, smoking-related fires are responsible for about five percent of reported house fires and 21 percent of home fire deaths. In fact, the NFPA says smoking inside the home leads to more house fire deaths than any other cause.
Smoking puts your health, family, and home at risk. Careless smoking inside the home has the potential to cause serious injury and death, especially if a person is lying down and falls asleep before extinguishing whatever they’re smoking.
Quitting smoking is the surest way to avoid smoking-related fires. Otherwise, avoid a smoking-related house fire by smoking outdoors and never smoking while lying in bed or reclining on the couch or a chair. For additional safety suggestions related to smoking, download the NFPA’s helpful tip sheet.
They might smell great and look beautiful, but candles cause about 8,200 house fires per year in the U.S. that result in nearly a hundred deaths, seven hundred injuries, and $3 million in direct property damage. Christmas is the #1 day for candle-related fires, with other home religious celebrations following closely behind.
About one in three fires caused by candles start in the bedroom, with falling asleep and leaving them unattended the top two contributing factors. Sixty percent occur when the candle’s too near some kind of combustible material.
If you want to enjoy candles safely, remember to:
- Never leave them lit without someone being in the room.
- Blow them out before you go to sleep.
- Keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn and spark a fire.
Another option is to use solar or battery-powered flameless candles, many of which now look and smell like the real thing! You can learn more about candle safety by downloading this NFPA safety guide.
Other top causes of house fires in Central Florida include:
- Children playing with fire
- Christmas trees and decorations
- Barbecue grills
- Flammable liquids
- Intentionally lit fires
- Power tools
If this makes it sound like there are fire hazards all over the home, you’re right! But by being aware of their potential risk, you’re more likely to prevent a fire from occurring. You can also protect your family and property and stop a fire in its tracks with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
Fire Damage Restoration and Remediation
A house fire can be devastating and is always a scary experience for those who live there. Of course, we hope your home is never subjected to a fire, but if it is, Central Florida Restoration Solutions is here to provide fire damage restoration services that include removal of items damaged by soot, grease, tobacco, electrical, or other fires. We also handle smoke damage and widespread water damage that occurs when a fire’s extinguished by the fire department.
We’re Central Florida’s most trusted restoration solutions company and promise to make the fire damage removal process as stress-free as possible. We know that fast, quality service makes our customers feel more reassured about the fire damage restoration process while limiting further damage that ends up requiring costly repairs and renovations. Our innovative techniques and professional equipment are just what you need to ensure the least amount of disruption to your home and life.
If you’d like to learn more about our fire damage services and how they can help you avoid costly repairs, contact CFRS today. We’re ready to give you the support and solutions needed to keep your Central Florida home and family safe from the disastrous effects fire damage can cause. We also offer help dealing with your home insurance company and 24/7 emergency services.