Statistics on House Fires


Thousands of people die every year in house fires. Furthermore, tens of thousands of people are injured. Fires are caused by a large variety of things, including children playing with matches and smoking. Because the risk to life, limb and property is so huge, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) holds a fire prevention week every year. The agency also spends a tremendous amount of effort trying to help people learn about and practice fire safety.


  • Between 1998 and 2007, there were an average of 397,650 house fires each year. These cause an average of 3,040 deaths and 14,960 injuries every single year. In all, deaths and injuries due to house fires accounted for around 80 percent of the harm to people caused by all fires including forest fires and car fires. The financial losses caused by these house fires amounted to an annual average of hundreds of millions.


  • Many different things can result in a house fire although it is sometimes difficult to discover the exact cause of a specific fire. In 36.4 percent of the time, the cause remains unknown. The largest known cause of house fires, 26.4 percent is cooking. Heaters cause 11.4 percent, candles cause 5.4 percent, smoking causes 2.1 percent, and children playing with matches cause 0.4 percent of the house fires according to the USFA.


  • Sometimes people set houses on fire on purpose for several reasons. They may own the house and hope to get the homeowners insurance to pay them for the damages. They may be covering up some other crime, expressing hate, or they may be addicted to fire-setting. No matter what motivates an arsonist, the action is always criminal and also indicates a need for the perpetrator to receive psychological intervention and counseling. Understand that 5.7 percent of all house fires may have been caused by arson.


  • Smoke alarms should be installed in each bedroom and there should be at least one on every floor of your home. These devices make noise that is loud enough to wake you in the event that there is smoke or a fire in your house. In addition to smoke alarms, every home should also be equipped with fire extinguishers. Put one in the kitchen, garage, and near the furnace. Some homeowners also decide to install a fire alarm security system to alert a security firm. This firm will call emergency services even if no one is at home in the event of a potential fire. Every family should make a fire escape plan that includes safe routes out of the home and a designated meeting place outside of the house. Family fire drills are great fun ways to make sure that everyone understands what to do in case there is ever a fire.


  • The USFA is a department of FEMA. This agency facilitates several fire prevention programs to educate the public about fire safety and prevention. In addition to the annual Arson Awareness Week, the USFA gives programs about fire safety for babies and toddlers, fire safety for people over 50, and a program about smoking and its relation to house fires. They hold an annual tribute to heroes who are recognized for their courage and selfless efforts on behalf of others during a fire. They also sponsor public service announcements on television, radio, and posters about fire safety.

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