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Snuffing Out Home Fire Risks by Learning How Flames Commonly Start

According to the United States Fire Administration, there were approximately 370,000 residential fires in the U.S. in 2013. These fires resulted in 2,750 civilian fatalities and over 12,000 serious injuries. What caused these horrific blazes? How can you protect your home and your family from becoming one of these statistics in 2015?

Common Causes of House Fires

According to the USFA and the National Fire Protection Agency, the ten most common causes of house fires are:

  1. Cooking. An estimated 40% of all house fires occur as a result of accidents in the kitchen while preparing food; the most common of which occur when the stove or oven is left unattended.
  2. Electrical malfunctions. Faulty wiring and electrical strain can cause fuses to blow, wires to spark, and plugs to smolder. These sparks can then ignite walls, fabric, and floors.
  3. Heating. Old, unclean, or ill-maintained furnaces can ignite dust and debris causing flames to occur throughout the house, while space heaters and heating blankets can also cause objects to smolder.
  4. Dryers. The heat from a dryer can easily ignite lint and clothing fibers which have gathered around the machine as well as left inside traps.
  5. Fireplaces. Tinder and kindling inside a fire can snap, causing embers to fly out of the fireplace and land on carpeting, curtains, etc.
  6. Smoking. A lit cigarette is basically just a lit match. If the smoker doesn't extinguish the embers completely before discarding it (or worse, falls asleep while it is still lit), it could easily ignite clothing, tissues and trash, carpeting, etc.
  7. Kids playing with fire. Although fire may seem "cool" to a kid, if he is not properly educated about the risks involved or proper fire safety, playing with a lighter could wind up causing severe burns or massive fire damage and injuries.
  8. Candles. Scented candles may be calming and romantic, but if left burning or unattended they're basically just an open flame. A slight breeze, an antsy cat, or an unstable table could all cause that flame to ignite other objects and quickly become out of control.
  9. Flammable household items. Certain cleaning products, oils, and pressurized items can be extremely flammable. If left next to a heat source, they can ignite or explode without warning.
  10. Christmas trees. During the season live Christmas trees are exceptionally dangerous for household fires. Warm lights, candles, and embers from a fireplace can all cause the tree to ignite. Once it ignites, you'll have a six foot blaze working its way up your walls and over your floors.

If you live in an apartment building or your home is close to others, share this information about fire safety. Otherwise, as careful as you are in your own home, you could suffer the consequences of someone else's carelessness with fire.

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