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The top 3 causes of house fires (and how to prevent them)

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- Published 20th November 2019

Each and every house fire is a tragedy – perhaps more so when it could be so easily avoided. From faulty electrics to cigarette-related fires, we look at the top three common causes of household fires in the UK as reported by the Home Office and elsewhere, with tips on how to prevent them.

Remember, the most important thing you can do to prevent a fire from breaking out is to ensure your smoke and heat detectors are in good working order. For advice on how to do this, take a look at our fire safety guides.

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Number #3 cause of home fires… Faulty appliances

Faulty household appliances are responsible for more than 60 fires a week in the UK. It’s believed that since 2012, more than 16,000 residential house fires have been caused by malfunctioning appliances. Leading the charge are washing machines and tumble dryers which are responsible for a third of all faulty appliance fires. Infamously, the Grenfell Tower tragedy was caused by a faulty Hotpoint Fridge Freezer.

How to prevent fires caused by faulty appliances?

  • Ensure your appliances have a British or European safety mark.
  • Regularly clean and check your appliance – if something doesn’t seem right, arrange a service.
  • Register your white goods – if there’s a product safety recall, you’ll be the first to know.


Number #2 cause of home fires… Human negligence

Leaving your hair straighteners on, overloading extension leads… we’ve all fallen foul to these, or something similar, before. It should come as no surprise then that simple human error was responsible for more than 10,000 household fires in the last year alone.

Mistakes happen. But, when it comes to fire safety, you should do all that you can to prevent these in the future.

How to prevent fires caused by negligence?

  • Share your fire safety knowledge with your household.
  • Always switch hair straighteners off and allow them to cool on a heat-proof surface.
  • Never leave phones or laptops plugged in to charge overnight.

Related: How to prevent kitchen fires


Number #1 cause of home fires… Smoking

Smoking-related deaths are by far the biggest killer in the UK today. But fires caused by cigarettes and lighters occupy their fair share of fatalities too – more than any other type of household fire.

According to the London Fire Brigade, over half of the fire-related deaths in the capital were caused by smoking. The fire service reported that there were around 11 smoking related fires per week in London in 2016, most of which were attributed to smokers falling asleep with lit cigarettes.

How to prevent fires caused by smoking?

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never smoke in the house while drinking alcohol.
  • Never leave a lit cigarette unattended. Ensure they’re properly extinguished before going to bed.

Of course, the best way to ensure you’re safe from a fire breaking out in your home is to have the correct fire alarm system in place. Guaranteed for 10 years, Sentinel’s heat and smoke detectors are a simple and effective way to safeguard your home.

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