23 U.S. House Fire Statistics To Keep in Mind While Protecting Your Home in 2023

Oct 6
A rag sits on a stovetop under a blue ceramic pot. The rag is on fire.

As the holidays approach, we look forward to big meals with family and evenings cuddled up by the roaring fireplace. However, the hustle and bustle toward the end of the year calls for even more precautions around the home.

House fires occur more commonly during cooler months, beginning in November according to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Home Structure Fires Report from April 2023. Heaters and lavish decor can increase your house fire risk, but that doesn’t mean you need to be afraid of these staples of the winter months—it’s just a matter of preparation and awareness.

Every homeowner can take steps to help prevent fires. We’ve compiled a list of house fire statistics that can help you inform your household of the risk and understand what steps you can take to help prepare.

Homeowner house fire preparedness

Preparedness is essential for helping to prevent house fires. Emergency plans and smoke detectors are two important tools that can help minimize the impact of a house fire. Let’s look at how homeowners are currently approaching house fire preparedness.

Why it’s important:

Preventive actions to take:

  • Ensure you have smoke alarms on each floor, inside everyone’s bedroom, and at least 10 feet away from kitchen appliances.

  • Test each smoke alarm at least every month and replace batteries at least every year.

  • Get a fire extinguisher for your home and test it at least once a month.

  • Create a map of your home that identifies all windows and doors and at least two exits for each room.

67% of responding homeowners don't know where their smoke detectors are. - 2022 Hippo Housepower Report, October 2022Source: 2022 Hippo Housepower Report, October 2022

When house fires occur

House fires can happen fast and, according to the NFPA, are more likely to start in the evening and during cooler months. Knowing peak times can help homeowners understand common risks and how to prevent them.

Why it’s important:

Preventive actions to take:

  • Inspect space heaters before using them, keep them at least three feet away from people and flammable objects, and plug them directly into the wall.

  • Don’t leave any heat sources unattended when you’re winding down at the end of the day or going to bed. Heat sources can include candles, fireplaces, and stoves.

  • Practice an emergency evacuation plan with the whole family (including pets) to ensure everyone knows how to exit quickly and safely.

What causes house fires?

The top five causes of house fires in 2016–2020 are cooking, heating equipment, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, intentional fire setting, and smoking materials, according to the NFPA.

Though you might not think anything of it, simply leaving a pile of laundry next to a space heater could lead to a house fire. Learn more about common causes of home structure fires and how to help prevent them.

Why it’s important:

Preventive actions to take:

  • Don’t leave the stove unattended. Turn it off if you need to walk away.

  • Turn the pan handles toward the back of the stove to avoid accidental bumps.

  • Keep flammable materials, like oven mitts or rags, away from the stove.

  • Address electrical issues as soon as possible to help avoid potential fires. Issues can include loose outlets, flickering lights, or outlets or wires that smell like they’re burning.

  • Smoke outside and ensure cigarettes and ashes are fully out before tossing them.

Holiday house fire statistics

During the holidays, candles, decor, and (seemingly) round-the-clock cooking are all potential house fire sources. However, being proactive (especially during Thanksgiving) can help you avoid potentially dangerous holiday scenarios.

Why it’s important:

Preventive actions to take:

  • Keep kids and pets away from the kitchen, especially during the holidays to avoid accidents.

  • Put a lid on grease fires and turn off the burner to smother it. 

  • Place candles at least one foot away from anything that can catch fire and away from spots where people can accidentally knock them over.

  • Keep the surrounding three feet around your Christmas tree clear of heat sources that can accidentally ignite your tree.

  • Throw away faulty holiday lights, avoid using more lights than directed by the manufacturer, and turn them off before going to bed.

An average of 2,300 house fires were reported to U.S. fire departments from 2017 to 2019 on Thanksgiving Day. - Data Snapshot: Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings (2017-2019) (USFA), August 2022Source: Data Snapshot: Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings (2017-2019) (USFA), August 2022

House fire impacts

A house fire can be a costly and scary event for any homeowner. Exactly how much damage depends on the scale and the severity of the fire. Reviewing your home insurance policy, addressing house fire sources with the highest impact, and preparing the most vulnerable for a fire can help limit the impact of a house fire.

Why it’s important:

Preventive actions to take:

  • Understand what your homeowners insurance covers in the event of a fire and whether you need more fire insurance to cover potential risks.

  • Schedule a professional inspection if you suspect issues with your home electrical system.

  • Designate areas outside for smoking and use a sturdy ashtray that won’t easily fall over.

  • Complete a home inventory to keep track of your personal losses if a home fire does occur.

  • Create a plan with family members or neighbors if you or another older adult needs help escaping during a fire.

When does home insurance cover fires?

Basic home insurance policies typically cover dwelling, personal property, and personal liability when house fires occur.

Dwelling coverage, in particular, provides coverage for structures on your property if a covered blaze damages them. Personal property coverage will cover your belongings in the event of a covered loss, so you can focus primarily on getting out of the house.

Downloadable house fire preparedness checklist

Familiarizing yourselves with the dangers of house fires is one step in house fire preparedness. Next, you can start making fixes and changes around your home to lessen your house fire risk. Download our checklist below for some tips to get you started and learn more safety tips from the NFPA.

Mockup of a house fire preparedness checklist PDF on a green desk with office supplies scattered around it.

download the house fire preparedness checklist

Preparing yourself and your home for house fires can help lower your risk and a future fire’s impact. Creating a fire escape route is an excellent first step, along with investing in home care to help you prevent any losses due to a fire.

You can also download the Hippo Home app (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store) to get personalized seasonal maintenance checklists tailored to your home—just another way Hippo has your back.

Disclaimer:

YourHaus, Inc. ("Hippo Home") is an affiliate of Hippo Insurance Services. Services (including all repair or maintenance services) provided to customers through affiliated and unaffiliated third-party contractors. Your use of Hippo Home is subject to Hippo Home's terms and conditions and privacy policies. Use of unaffiliated third-party vendors is subject to the terms of service provided by such third party. Hippo Insurance Services is not responsible for your use/non-use of Hippo Home or any service vendor. @ YourHaus, Inc. 2023

Hippo Insurance Services ("Hippo") is a general agent for affiliated and nonaffiliated insurance companies. Hippo is licensed as a property casualty insurance agency in all states in which products are offered. Availability and qualification for coverage, terms, rates, and discounts may vary by jurisdiction. We do not in any way imply that the materials on the site or products are available in jurisdictions in which we are not licensed to do business or that we are soliciting business in any such jurisdiction. Coverage under your insurance policy is subject to the terms and conditions of that policy. Coverage and coverage amounts selected are the decision of the buyer.

Related Articles

ANY QUESTIONS?

Ask away—we’re here to help.

Customer Support

(800) 585-0705[email protected]We are here around the clock from Monday to Friday. We're closed from 6 pm CST on Saturday and resume service at 5 am CST on Monday. If you need assistance outside of these hours, please don't hesitate to email us at [email protected] or call us during our regular hours.

Claims

(855) 999-9746[email protected]Contact us to file a claim. We're here 24/7.

Agent Support

(650) 426-0546[email protected]We are here Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT.

Lender Support

(800) 585-0705 Opt #3[email protected]We are here Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT.

Hippo Home app

home.hippo.comStay on top of home maintenance with the Hippo Home app.