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Most common causes of house fires & how to prevent house fires

August 18, 2023

Among the most frequent domestic accidents, in addition to falls, poisoning or cuts in the kitchen, are burns and fires. We see them in the news every year, especially when the cold weather arrives and the use of heat sources in the home increases. But fires happen all year round.

No one is safe from suffering a fire at home, so in this article we will examine the most common causes of house fires, and more importantly, how to prevent them. You will see that it is not just a matter of bad luck, but that there are many things you can do to prevent fires and minimise their consequences if you have one at home.

Most common causes of house fires & how to prevent house fires

Domestic fires in Spain

Every year when the summer arrives, fire makes the front pages of Spanish newspapers because of forest fires. We see hectares razed to the ground, families evicted from their homes and crops destroyed. However, fire also wreaks havoc inside homes and statistics bear witness to this.

According to Spanish firefighter Ignacio Robles, creator of the slogan "close the door to fire", there are around 17,000 fires in Spain every year. That is an average of 47 fires per day.  If we talk about fatalities, during the year 2021 there were 152 deaths due to fires, to which we would have to add the death of pets and the considerable material damage.

That is why it is important that you take note of the most common causes of fires so that you could be able to know how to prevent house fires.

Most common causes of house fires

  • Faulty electrical installation and short-circuits. It is very important to have a good electrical installation at home, which has to be always installed and maintained by professionals. In addition, it is necessary to be aware of possible short-circuits that could cause a fire or the loss of an electrical appliance. It is also advisable not to overload power strips and to be careful about overheating sockets.

  • Tobacco. Although it may seem an exaggeration at first, cigarettes are indeed one of the main causes of domestic fires. Most of the time, it is because they are badly extinguished, and on other occasions due to carelessness on the part of smokers who fall asleep while smoking. The fire usually spirals out of control when lit cigarettes come into contact with certain highly flammable fabrics, such as curtains, sheets, or carpets.

  • Candles. These decorative elements may seem harmless, but they are a common source of fires if not handled properly. Just like a cigarette, candles require our vigilance at all times when they are lit, and we must choose carefully where to place them. When placing them, it is important to avoid spots where there are draughts and to place the candle in a safe container, usually glass. 

  • The kitchen. Finally, we arrive to one of the most dangerous places in our home when it comes to fire. Our kitchen is a place where we have a lot of electrical products, such as the toaster, the oven or the cooker itself (whether electric or gas), together with the flammable element par excellence: hot oil. For this reason, it is very important to position the panhandles towards the wall and not towards the passageway, and always make sure that electrical appliances are switched off when you have finished using them. 

  • Heaters: As for cookers, braziers or radiators, they should always be supervised while they are switched on. Most importantly, clothing should not be placed on them, in order to prevent certain highly flammable textile fibres from overheating.

  • Unsupervised children: For all the reasons mentioned in the previous points, it is extremely important that children are always accompanied when handling certain electrical appliances, or if candles, cigarettes or cookers are lit. Any carelessness or distraction could be fatal.

If we pay attention to these details, we will be much less likely to suffer a fire at home. As an extra preventive measure, don't forget to install a smoke detector at home. This simple and economical measure can make a huge difference if, for example, you fire breaks at night while you are sleeping.

Most common causes of house fires & how to prevent house fires

Other important measures

In addition to preventive measures and being aware of potential sources of fire, it is also important to protect your home and family with home insurance to cover damage from a house fire. 

If you don't already have home insurance, you can take a look at Caser Home Insurance in Spain. This insurance will cover you in the event of fire caused by the combustion of objects that were not designed to burn, explosions caused by gas leaks, etc. In addition, once the fire has been extinguished, this insurance also covers damage to walls caused by smoke. More information on home insurance.

In the event that the fire finds you inside your home, there are also certain recommendations that you can follow to deal with it as safely as possible. First of all, turn off the electricity and gas if you can. Call 112 for help, which is the emergency telephone number in Spain. If you are unable to safely leave your home, look for a window or balcony where you have access to smoke-free air (if it faces the street, it will be even better to facilitate the work of the fire brigade). And as we said at the beginning of this article, close the door to the fire. It is important that you close the doors you go through. Closed doors become firewalls that allow you to contain the fire and thus gain time until the arrival of firefighters and/or rescuers.

Without a doubt, knowing how to prevent house fires is part of our basic training as citizens, as it not only serves to protect ourselves, but also to protect our loved ones and neighbours. I hope you found this article interesting, and that from now on you will be able to take some extra measures to prevent future fires. See you next time!

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