Open Accessibility Menu

December, January, & February Are Most Common Months For House Fires

Jason Reese

Why Home Fire Is Tragically Common In Winter Months

It seems we most often hear of horrific house fires over the holiday season and the first few weeks of the new year. It isn’t by chance this trend happens at the same time each year. The months of December, January, and February are responsible for nearly half of all home fires caused by cooking appliances or heating equipment, such as a stationary portable space heater or even a dirty chimney. However, many times the source of the fire can also be traced to a general contractor who was negligent in completing home renovations or repairs. In addition, a faulty material or product, like a recalled fire extinguisher, may play a role in a house fire, creating possible grounds for a product liability case.

Fires Always Have a Cause

Cooking equipment is currently the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries, and is the second leading cause of home fire deaths. More than two of every five (43 percent) reported home structure fires started in the kitchen. Two out of five (39 percent) home fire injuries were caused by these incidents.

Heating equipment is the third leading cause of home fire deaths. In fact, latest reports from the National Fire Protection Association say U.S. fire departments responded to 56,000 home structure fires that involved heating equipment.

These fires caused:

  • 470 civilian fire deaths
  • 1,490 civilian fire injuries
  • $1.0 billion in direct property damage

Other heating equipment fires accounted for 16 percent of all reported home fires and 19 percent of home fire deaths. Statistics supporting these deaths contributing to home heating fires (30 percent) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys but the leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (56 percent) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. Stationary or portable space heaters were liable for most (84 percent) or home heating fire deaths.

The victims of these fires may experience temporary injuries related to smoke inhalation or more serious, long-term injuries requiring ongoing treatment. These personal injuries can include second- and third-degree burns and respiratory damage from inhaling chemicals released during a fire. In some cases, the cause can result in your eligibility for financial compensation.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 358,500 home structure fires per year during 2011–2015. These fires caused an annual average of 2,510 civilian fire deaths, 12,300 civilian fire injuries and $6.7 billion in direct damage. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to know the fire risks in your home and how to prevent them.

  • Never use appliances with worn or otherwise damaged electrical cords.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Ensure light bulbs are the appropriate wattage and not too high for the
    fixture or lamp in which it is being used.
  • Avoid overloading circuits or extension cords.
  • If your home is older and has not been inspected recently, hire a licensed contractor to ensure your wiring is up to date and chimney is clean.
  • Avoid using extension cords as permanent solutions. Never run cords under rugs.
  • When using space heaters, be sure not to place them too close to furniture, curtains or other materials that may catch fire.
  • Plug heaters directly into wall outlets. Turn off heaters when leaving the house or going to sleep.
  • Use proper-sized fuses in the fuse box.
  • Teach children about fire and electrical safety. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children. Never leave children alone in room with cooking equipment or near open flames.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level, especially near sleeping areas. Clean your smoke detector of dust and cobwebs once a month to ensure it’s in proper working condition.
  • Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  • If a fire occurs in your home, get out and never go back inside for anything or anyone.
  • Use a contractor who is licensed and has secured the required permits to perform any work. If you hire an unlicensed contractor and have a home fire, you will be responsible for costly repairs or could be held liable for personal injury and property damage.

What You Need To Know About Contractor Liability

If you hire an electrician or contractor to do work on your home, it is critically important for your protection that you ensure he or she is licensed, bonded, and insured. Since requirements for each of these will vary according to state and/or city, you should take time to understand what you are getting when you are hiring someone to complete work on your home.

For example, in Indianapolis, general contractors are required to be licensed. The Department of Business and Neighborhood Services (BNS) is responsible for licensing persons and business organizations engaged in construction activity in the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, Marion County (not including cities of Lawrence, Beech Grove, Speedway and Southport). The contractor license types include general, electrical, heating and cooling, and wrecking. Licensing for plumbing contractors are administered by the State of Indiana, with the license required to be registered with the City of Indianapolis.

The Consolidated City of Indianapolis wants you to know that the “hiring of unlicensed contractors or unlicensed skilled workers may leave you outside of state policies and protections. In addition, it is probably safe to say that those who are working without meeting state or local requirements are more likely to breaking additional rules while completing work in your home.” You can review the list of licensed local Indianapolis contractors here.

Has a Home Fire or Contractor Negligence Impacted Your Life?

Have you been injured or experienced loss due to a house fire? Do you believe
negligence on the part of a contractor or a faulty product may be the cause? If so, our Indianapolis-based personal injury attorneys may be able to help you put your life back together. Connect with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information. If you wish to speak directly with us, please call (888) 204-8440.


Request Your Free Case Evaluation

Fill out the form below to get started or give us a call at (888) 204-8440 to speak with our legal team directly.

  • Please enter your First Name.
  • Please enter your Last Name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.

Our Locations

  • Indianapolis Office: 201 N. Illinois St.,
    16th Floor - South Tower

    Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • Carmel Office: 11939 N. Meridian St.
    Carmel, IN 46032
  • Evansville Office: 815 John St. Suite 110
    Evansville, IN 47713
  • Fort Wayne Office: 3201 Stellhorn Rd
    Fort Wayne, IN 46815
  • Champaign Office: 701 Devonshire Dr., Suite C17
    Champaign, IL 61820