Furniture Fires

Upholstered Furniture Can Be a Fire Risk

You may be sitting on one of the greatest fire hazards in your home. Upholstered furniture and mattresses contain foams and fillers that burn rapidly, release tremendous heat, produce toxic gases and consume oxygen rapidly.
Careless smoking is a leading cause of fatal furniture fires.
Sparks from fireplaces, wood stoves and heaters also can cause upholstered furniture fires. Take care when purchasing furniture and using it in your home.

Fire-Resistant Furniture

Most consumers don't know how easily their furnishings and mattresses can burn. Although foam manufacturers provide warning labels about the hazards of burning foam, these warnings don't always reach a consumer buying new furniture.
When shopping for upholstered furniture, choose products that are specifically designed to be more fire resistant than conventional furniture. Look for products made under the Upholstered Furniture Action Council (UFAC) program, or furnishings that meet the requirements of the California Bureau of Home Furnishings (CAL 117 or 133).
Warning: While upholstered furniture that complies with these standards will still burn, it is safer than conventional furniture and offers better protection for you and your family.

Smoking and Upholstered Furniture and Mattresses

Smoking and upholstered furniture don't mix. Improperly discarded smoking materials and ashes can easily ignite upholstered furniture and mattresses. Follow these important safety steps:
  • Do not smoke when drowsy, intoxicated or when using medication that causes drowsiness.
  • When lighting smoking materials, be sure sparks do not land on the seating.
  • Use large deep ashtrays and do not place them on sofas or chairs.
  • Check under cushions and in crevices for discarded cigarettes, ashes or matches when a person has smoked in the room.
  • Replace your old mattress. Mattresses manufactured after 1973 are required to be more resistant to ignition by cigarettes.
Minimize all fire risks from smoking materials to protect yourself and your family.

Fire-Safe Furniture Placement

The placement of upholstered furniture in your home can be important for fire safety.
  • Leave at least 3 feet of space between furniture and space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves.
  • To help prevent a furniture fire, keep electrical cords, lamps and appliances away from upholstered furniture and mattresses.
  • Keep open flames such as candles away from upholstered furniture, draperies and lampshades.
1Reproduced with permission from the NFPA web site, copyright © 2015, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA. All rights reserved.

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