Electrical fires are a major cause of household fires, accounting for around 51,000 fires each year and resulting in more than 1,400 injuries, nearly 500 fatalities and $1.3 billion in property damage. It’s important to educate yourself about the causes of electrical fires so that you can take steps to improve fire safety in your home.
Common Causes of Electrical Fires
Most electrical fires are caused by human error. The following are some common mistakes that can cause electrical fires:
- • Using damaged electrical outlets and appliances.
- • Misusing electric heaters and other electrical appliances.
- • Using lightbulbs of an incorrect wattage.
- • Overloading electrical outlets.
- • Using substandard electrical appliances.
- • Ignoring your electrical system’s maintenance requirements.
- • Performing electrical work without a license.
Fire Safety Tips
One of the best ways to protect against electrical fires is to take a proactive approach to electrical safety. Follow these tips to help prevent electrical fires.
1. Inspect Your Electrical Outlets and Appliances
Inspect your electrical outlets for damage or deterioration, and replace them if necessary. You should also check your electrical appliances for damaged plugs, flexes and sockets, and replace them if necessary. If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, have it repaired or replaced.
2. Use Electric Heaters Wisely
Purchase only electric heaters that carry an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark and have a tip-over safety switch. Place electric heaters at least 6 inches away from furniture and soft furnishings. Plug your electric heater directly into a wall outlet, and check that the vents are clean and free from obstructions before switching your heater on.
3. Switch Off Electrical Appliances When You’re Not Using Them
Switch off and unplug electrical appliances when you’re not using them, except those that are meant to be permanently switched on. Never unplug an appliance by pulling the flex. Always grasp the plug, not the flex.
4. Choose the Correct Wattage
Check to make sure your lightbulbs are of the correct wattage for your light fixtures, and replace any that exceed the maximum wattage. Insert new lightbulbs carefully, ensuring that they’re securely in the holder.
5. Avoid Overloading Your Electrical Outlets
Use only one power strip per socket, and be sure to check to ensure all power strips have an internal circuit breaker. Never plug a power strip into another power strip. If you don’t have enough electrical outlets, hire a licensed electrician to install new ones.
6. Buy Electrical Appliances From Reputable Sources
Purchase electrical appliances only from reputable sources. Avoid buying second-hand electrical products, especially if the warranty has run out. If you have any suspicions about an electrical product’s safety, don’t use it.
7. Be Alert to the Signs of Faulty Electrical Wiring
Be alert to warning signs such as hot plugs and sockets, burning smells, fuses blowing, circuit breakers tripping, and buzzing, popping or sizzling sounds behind your walls. You should also look for flickering or sparking lights and discoloration or scorch marks on your electrical outlets and plugs. If you notice any of these signs, consult a licensed electrician immediately.
8. Use a Licensed Electrician
Schedule periodic maintenance checks on your electrical systems with a licensed electrician. If you need any electrical work done in your home, don’t be tempted to do it yourself. Instead, use a licensed electrician. Be sure to request and retain electrical certificates and reports for any electrical work carried out in your home.
9. Install a Smoke Alarm
Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, and test all smoke alarms at least once per month. Remember to replace your smoke alarms every 10 years or if they don’t sound when tested. And don’t forget – we offer Fire monitoring services. We can protect your home with monitored carbon monoxide detectors too! Just give us a call to get started.
Keeping your home safe from electrical fires doesn’t have to be a challenge. By following these simple steps, you can protect against common fire hazards and improve your home’s safety.