10 common house fire causes – and how to prevent them

Protecting your home from fire starts with being aware of potential fire hazards and knowing what to do to prevent them.

Here are 10 common causes of household fires, along with tips on how to keep your home and your family safe.

1. Cooking

Even if you have to step away for just a minute or two, don’t leave food cooking on stove unattended and always turn cooking appliances off after use and keep anything that can catch fire at least three feet away from stove (oven mitts, dish towels, curtains, shirt sleeves, etc.). Likewise, keep your oven and stovetop clean and free of grease and food residue. It’s also best to avoid heating metal in the microwave since it can damage your microwave.

2. Faulty wiring

Whether it’s due to poor workmanship or just wear and tear from age, problems with electrical wiring are a common cause of household fires. If you live in home that’s 15 years or older, have a licensed electrical contractor do an inspection to ensure everything’s up to code (i.e. make sure there’s no knob and tube or aluminum wiring). Finally, don’t run electrical cords under rugs where they can get damaged and ignite.

3. Space heaters

It’s always good to maintain at least one metre of space around the space heater and don’t use space heater to dry wet clothing or linens. As well, always turn the heater off if you’re not in the room and don’t leave kids or pets alone in a room where there’s a space heater.

4. Candles

There’s nothing like candles to improve a room’s ambience (they also come in handy during a power outage). Just make sure they’re located a safe distance from flammable objects and out of reach of children and pets. Use sturdy candle holders on a stable surface and never leave them unattended.

5. Smoking

Are you a smoker or have smokers in your home? Be sure to use large, deep ashtrays and keep them on sturdy surfaces. Also, make the bedroom a smoke-free zone to reduce the risk of falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

6. Children playing with matches

This is another common cause of household fires. Keep matches and lighters well out of reach of curious little hands.

7. Fireplace

Keep sparks and embers from flying out on to your floor and rug by using a fireplace screen. Also, make sure wood and pellet stoves are installed properly.

8. Clothes dryer

Clean the lint filter after every use to reduce the risk of a dryer fire. Don’t overload the dryer or add items that contain rubber or foam.

9. Poorly-stored flammables

Gasoline, propane and paint should all be safely stored in a cool, dry location outside of your home.

10. Heated appliances

Don’t forget to turn off your curling/straightening iron and clothing iron when you leave the room – don’t leave them unattended.

And of course, smoke alarms are a must when it comes to home fire safety. Test your smoke alarm every month – units that are more than 10 years old should be replaced completely. It’s also a smart idea to have an escape plan and practice it a couple of times a year.


Whether you own or rent, there’s no place like home – and there’s no insurance like Sonnet. Get a quote and see for yourself…