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2023 House Fire Statistics

Nov 21, 2023|

House fires remain a major concern for homeowners. In fact, 26% of all fires reported between 2016 and 2020 happened in home buildings. Understanding statistics like this and how home fire injuries and fire-related deaths can be prevented is the first step towards a nation of safer homes.

In this guide, we’ll look at more of the data for this year and share ways to stay vigilant and be prepared in the event of a home fire, starting with the top sources of home fires. We’ll also cover instances of property damage, injuries, and fatalities before offering the best safety tips for protecting your home and family.

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Leading home fire causes

Being informed about what causes most home fires is the first step in prevention. These are some of the most common culprits:

Christmas trees

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that Christmas tree fires cause an average of 160 U.S. home fires, 2 civilian deaths, and 11 injuries annually.

Often, these fires happen because of dry trees coming into contact with flammable materials or heat sources, like lights and heaters. Ensure your tree stays hydrated, keep it away from heat sources, and always turn off the lights when you're not around.

Cooking

Cooking is the number one cause of residential building fires in the U.S.

Just imagine the difference safe home cooking could make!

Oven ranges or cooktops cause 53% of reported home cooking fires, and homes with electric ranges are at a greater risk of cooking fires than those with gas ranges.

Always be careful in the kitchen, but especially if you have an electric stove. Stay in the kitchen when you're frying, grilling, or broiling food, and avoid loose-fitting clothing, since it can easily catch fire.

Electrical fires

Electrical fires are the source of over 50,000 fires each year.

Overloaded circuits, outdated wiring, and malfunctioning appliances are often to blame for electrical fires. To keep your home safe, have a professional inspect your home's electrical system, especially if it's an older property. And always be cautious with extension cords—they're handy, but can be a fire hazard if misused.

Wildfires

Wildfires burned over 1,200 homes in 2022.

Most of these fires were in California, where they have been especially prevalent in recent years. Factors like changing climate conditions, dry vegetation, and strong winds have made California particularly vulnerable. Especially if you live in an area that’s prone to wildfires, have a fire escape plan, maintain defensible space around your property, and stay updated with local fire department advisories.

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Fire-related damages, injuries, and fatalities

But the aftermath of a fire can be devastating, from property damage to fire-related injuries and, tragically, fatalities. Let's break down some of the main house fire statistics involving civilian fire deaths, injuries, and home fire damage.

Property damage

Home fires cause $7.2 billion in U.S. property damage annually.

That's money that homeowners, insurance companies, and communities have to shoulder. But beyond the loss of finances and structures, it also means lost memories, heirlooms, and countless other valuables.

Electrical fires cost Americans around $1.3 billion annually in property damage.

Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and malfunctioning appliances are often the culprits here. Regular inspections and cautious use of electrical equipment can reduce this risk.

Fire injuries

Home structure fires cause 74% of civilian fire injuries each year.

That means the majority of people injured in a fire experienced it right in the comfort of home. And this next stat that should make you think twice about multitasking in the kitchen:

Oven range or cooktop fires are involved in 74% of cooking fire injuries.

Distractions can be dangerous, especially when dealing with hot surfaces and flammable materials.

Electrical fires are the cause of more than 1,400 injuries per year.

These injuries can range from minor burns to more severe complications, pointing again to the importance of electrical safety.

Fire deaths

Home structure fires cause three-quarters of civilian fire deaths.

Every one of these deaths is a life cut short due to circumstances that, in many cases, could have been prevented.

Oven range or cooktop fires are involved in 88% of cooking fire deaths, and 7% of home cooking fire deaths involve clothes catching fire.

Loose-fitting clothes, especially those with long sleeves, can easily come into contact with open flames or hot surfaces, leading to tragic consequences.

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and related deaths.

Leaving cooking unattended, even for a moment, can lead to disaster. A boiling pot can quickly overflow, grease can ignite, or food can burn, leading to a full-blown fire. Be vigilant and present when cooking, so you can immediately address anything that goes awry.

Clothes catching fire causes 7% of home cooking fire deaths.

It’s not just open flames that can ignite clothing; even a hot burner or steam can do it. Be mindful of what you wear while cooking, and always opt for tighter-fitting clothes and avoid wearing dangling jewelry or accessories. These simple precautions could prevent a serious tragedy.

Electrical fires cause nearly 500 deaths annually.

Electrical fires can start at various sources, including faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or malfunctioning appliances. Regular inspections, especially in older homes, can help you identify and fix potential hazards. Also, know the signs of an impending electrical fire, like frequent circuit breaker trips or flickering lights, so you can take preventive measures.

Vivint Smoke and CO Detector.
 

Fire prevention and preparedness tips

By following these essential fire safety tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of a fire in your home and ensure the safety of your loved ones.

Smoke alarms

Smoke detectors and alarms are a critical fire prevention strategy since they provide an early warning, allowing residents to escape before a small mishap turns into a major disaster. Consider a smart smoke alarm, like Vivint’s combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It does double duty, alerting you to the presence of both smoke and carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that's colorless and odorless.

To make sure these devices are always in working order, test your smoke detectors monthly, replace batteries annually, and replace entire units every 10 years.

Fire extinguishers

Having a fire extinguisher on hand can mean the difference between a minor incident and a total catastrophe. But don’t just own one—know how to use it. Regularly check the pressure gauge and replace or service it if it's damaged, and after each use.

Regular heating equipment inspection

Your heating equipment, including furnaces, boilers, and space heaters, should be inspected annually by a professional. This ensures they're functioning safely and efficiently. Always keep space heaters away from flammable materials—a little distance can prevent a lot of heartache.

Proper smoking material disposal

Improper disposal of smoking materials is a leading cause of home fires. Always extinguish smoking materials in water before disposal, and never smoke in bed. This tip that's easy to follow and can save lives.

Safe cooking practices

Always stay in the kitchen when you're frying, grilling, or broiling food. Keep flammable items away from the stovetop, and consider installing a fire suppression system in the kitchen. And again, avoid loose-fitting clothing when cooking.

Electrical safety

Electrical fires can be devastating, but they're also preventable. Avoid overloading outlets, always hire a licensed electrician for any electrical work, and be vigilant about replacing or repairing damaged electrical cords. A little attention to electrical safety can go a long way in fire prevention.

Safe use and storage of flammable liquids

Flammable liquids need special care. Always store them away from heat sources and in properly labeled, approved containers. Keep in mind that these liquids are combustible, so treat them with the respect they deserve.

A fire escape plan

Every household should have a fire escape plan to reduce the risk of fire-related injuries or fatalities. Identify multiple exits from each room, establish a safe meeting point outside, and make sure everyone understands the plan. Practice makes perfect: run through your fire escape plan periodically to ensure everyone knows what to do during an emergency.

Home insurance

An insurance policy that covers fire damage can help you rebuild and recover without bearing the entire financial burden. According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners insurance covers property loss due to fire, which can help you in the aftermath. If you're renting, consider renter’s insurance, which can offer similar protections. Check with your insurance company to understand your coverage and make sure your premiums reflect the value of your property.

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Prioritizing fire safety with Vivint

From understanding the leading causes of home fires to using preventive measures like smoke alarms and safe cooking, every step towards fire safety makes a difference.

Vivint safety alarms are a reliable solution for improving your home’s safety and protecting your loved ones. Don't wait for a mishap to prioritize safety—take proactive steps today with Vivint for peace of mind for tomorrow.

Home fire FAQ

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions with answers to keep you informed and safe.

What is the #1 leading cause of house fires?

Cooking is the #1 leading cause of house fires. Unattended cooking, in particular, poses a significant risk.

What percent of reported house fires are fatal?

On average, less than 1% of reported house fires result in fatalities. However, even a small percentage translates to a significant number of lives, emphasizing the importance of fire prevention and safety.

What is most likely to catch fire in a house?

Flammable and combustible materials like curtains, upholstered furniture, and bedding are the most likely to catch fire. Electrical issues, heating equipment, and candles are also common culprits.

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