The other day, I was reminded of when I was in high school, my house caught fire, and my family lost everything.
What the fire did not take the hoses ruined.
In our case, it was the old cliche of a kid playing with matches. I guess I had a bit of a misconception that most fires start with kids playing with matches, but that is actually rarely the case.
With this memory fresh in my mind, I’d like to break down the top 5 causes of fires and how to prevent house fires in general.
Before I break down the top 5 causes of fires that, we should probably figure out what fires need to survive.
Once we have that, we will know how to extinguish them.
So the question is, what does a fire need to live?
Fuel is what the fire needs to consume to remain. This is fat from cooking oils, rendering of meats or butter/lard in many kitchen fires.
When we think of candle fires in the home, these are typically flammable items that were too close to the flame.
By keeping intended fires, fireplaces, stove burners, and candles away from other fuels, we can eliminate fires’ ability to grow.
The most common way we put out fires is by making the fuel less flammable.
We usually do this with water, soaking the fuel to take much more heat to ignite the fuel.
But not all fuel can be saturated.
For instance, the fat from a cooking fire is already a liquid, and adding water to any fat will result in splattering, resulting in injuries.
It's one of those types of fires where we can’t mess with the fuel, so we need to find another method.
Fuel and oxygen cannot create a fire.
Heat must be added for a fire to ignite. Therefore removing heat can also stop a fire.
For instance, turning off the stovetop when you see fire will reduce the heat and decrease the fire.
Cigarettes and space heaters are two familiar sources of heat that start a fire.
Along with fuel, fire needs oxygen to stay alive.
So when you get that grease fire and put a lid on the pot, that is the right way to put out that kind of fire; remove the source of oxygen.
Okay, so now for that list of the most common types of home fires and how to both prove our home from them and how to combat them when they occur.
The number one place for a fire to start in a home is the kitchen.
Of those fires that form in the kitchen, the best way to mitigate house fires above any other is to stay in your kitchen when cooking.
Almost all of these fires occur on stoves, so the number two thing you can do is keep flammable items away from the stove.
If the stovetop fire gets out of control and you decide to fight it, assume a moist fuel involved like oil, grease, or fat.
Don’t put water on these fires.
Just remove one of the things that keep it going, for instance, oxygen but smothering it with a pot lid.
Turning off the heat source will make it rely on only the heat it generates, and without oxygen, it won’t be making more of that heat.
How To Prevent House Fires While Cooking:
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, local fire departments responded to an estimated 52,050 fires involving heating equipment each year, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires during this time.
These fires resulted in annual losses of 490 civilian deaths, 1,400 civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage.
You can follow a couple of easy tips to keep safe with these, especially in December, January, and February when over half of these fires occur, leaving people out in the cold.
How to Prevent House Fires From Your Heater:
We live every day with electricity - Thomas Edison would be proud.
But, we also live surrounded by possible house fire risks that you may not even know of.
Overloaded circuits account for most of the fires related to electricity.
On top of that, home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage.
There are a few tips to prevent any house fires from the electricity that I have listed below.
How To Prevent House Fires from Electrical Causes:
It's estimated that cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, start an estimated 17,200 home structure fires annually.
These fires caused an average of 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in direct property damage.
Smoking materials cause 5% of reported home fires, 21% of home fire deaths, 10% of home fire injuries, and 6% of the direct property damage.
How To Prevent House Fires from Smoking:
More than one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom, and two of every five candle fires start when things that can burn are left near the candle.
While I love a good candle (believe it or not), I am always very cautious around them and I have a few tips to keep you safe.
How to Prevent House Fires From Candles:
Even if you take all of the precautions above on how to prevent house fires, life happens.
We want to be as independent and self-serving as possible, but sometimes disaster is unavoidable.
The best way to prevent anything happening to your family in a house fire is smoke detectors. Smoke detectors save lives.
You should change the batteries in your smoke detectors each time you move your clocks forward or back.
Batteries aren't cheap, but if you lost a loved one in a fire that could have been prevented you will find yourself saying I would pay anything to get them back - to spend a few dollars a year and keep everyone safe.
I always make sure that I have an emergency kit in my truck ready to go in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Along with this kit, I also throw in a long term food bucket from Valley Food Storage.
This allows me to know that I can feed my family if needed while we aren’t at home.
I also have a few buckets in my pantry but in the event of a fire - the first things I’m making sure survive are my family and the dog.
The reason I choose Valley is for the simple fact that our food has zero bullshit in it. No fillers, no GMO’s and no artificial ingredients.
I used it before I started writing for VSF here and I still pay the full amount for my long term food supply.
House fires can be a scary thing - but now you’re prepared for any of them.
I promise if you follow the tips I have laid out above, you and your family will be as safe as possible.
While you know exactly how to prevent house fires, what do you do if you have one and you need to get out of the house quickly?
Well, I’ve answered this for you too.