Electrical fires are unfortunately more common than we want them to be because of faulty wiring, old wiring, or even simple electrical failures. In a typical home, there are many ways electricity is used throughout the house. Whether that is through the electrical wiring, electrical outlets, circuit breaker, breaker box, or just the electrical system in general. Because of how prevalent electricity is throughout a house, it’s crucial for a homeowner to understand the dangers of an electrical fire.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, an estimated 51,000 electrical residential fires occur yearly. These electrical fires result in over $1.3 billion in property damage, 1,400 injuries, and even 500 deaths. Over a billion dollars worth of damage and more than 500 deaths yearly due to electrical fires is heartbreaking. To say the least, electrical fires are a serious issue. These statistics should make electrical safety a top priority for homeowners in keeping themselves and their families safe.
Homeowners need to be vigilant and do what they can to prevent an electrical fire from happening in their homes. In order to know how to prevent electrical fires, it’s important to know their most common causes. Below are the five most common causes of electrical fires and some tips on how to prevent electrical fires - the best way to stop a fire is not to let it catch fire in the first place.
A leading cause of electrical fires is faulty electrical outlets or faulty electrical devices. Devices that use electricity, such as microwaves, toasters, televisions, air conditioners, and other appliances, can cause electrical problems if they are outdated, old, or have worn-out or torn wiring. Appliances can cause fires if there are faults in an appliance's prong, receptacles, or fuses. If you see black/brown spots around your appliance's cord or wall outlet, there is a burning smell omitting from your appliance, or you suspect other warning signs, it’s in your best interest to dispose of the appliance. An appliance with any of these issues can become a combustible fire hazard that will start an electrical fire.
Electrical outlets are just as common a cause of an electrical fire as appliances. If you have an outlet that is not grounded properly, loose from the wall or exposed in any way, then it is in your best interest to have a qualified electrician look at it immediately.
2. Electrical Circuit Overloads
Electrical cords are considered one of the most common causes of electrical fires because people will plug as many appliances into one cord as possible. Using extension cords to house multiple large appliances can cause overloaded circuits, leading to overheating and power loss. The same goes for outlets. If too many appliances are plugged into one outlet, it can cause an electrical circuit overload.
For example, avoid plugging your TV, computer, lamp, wifi router, etc., into one plug, as it might not be designed to handle that much power at once. Surge-protected power strips are recommended if you plan to house multiple electrical devices on one plug. Be conscious of how much you put on one power strip so you don’t cause any overheating or electrical fires.
If you need extra outlets installed, contact a certified electrician and schedule an appointment for them to come out and install more electrical outlets in your home.
3. Space Heaters
Space heaters may not be needed during the peak times of the scorching Alabama heat, but they sure are desired during the cold days of winter. When using any portable heater within your home, it’s crucial to be mindful of where it is placed. A space heater should not be placed near any rugs, curtains, beds, or other flammable materials that could cause a fire. A space heater should not be left running or unattended for long periods of time either.
If you plan on acquiring a space heater, try to avoid a space heater that uses exposed coils to produce heat. Exposed coils make it easy for flammable materials to catch fire if they come in contact. It is recommended to get a space heater that has the ability to radiate heat instead of pushing heat out.
4. Light Fixtures
Another leading cause of electrical fires is light fixtures. Different types of light fixtures, light bulbs, flickering lights, and other room lighting devices can cause an electrical problem if not used properly. Every light fixture or lamp has a recommended wattage for light bulbs used. If a light bulb's wattage is too high for the fixture, it can cause overheating.
It’s also crucial never to place any flammable material over a lampshade or light bulb. Cloth, paper, or other thin material has the chance to catch fire if left on a light bulb for too long.
5. Outdated Wiring
Depending on when your home was built, it might have faulty or outdated wiring. If your home is over 20 years old, then it’s best to call a certified electrician to come and check it out to ensure the electrical work is still safe. Outdated wiring may not be able to handle all of the electrical appliances you have in your home and could lead to an electrical fire.
If you ever feel unsafe in your home due to electrical work, call an electrician to check out your electrical wiring to ensure it is installed correctly and safely.
Electrical Fire Safety Tips
Now that you are familiar with the top five causes of electrical fires, here are some safety tips you can start implementing immediately.
- A fire extinguisher is the first step in fire safety everyone needs to be familiar with and prepared for. Electrical fires are considered class c fires, so a fire extinguisher made for class c fires would be ideal in your home.
- Have working smoke detectors throughout your home that are checked often.
- Check on all your appliances and ensure there is no faulty or exposed wiring.
- Don’t overload any electrical outlet, extension cord, or electrical circuit. Have multiple outlets/power strips available to you to minimize mass amounts of power for one outlet.
- Never have a space heater near or on top of any flammable material.
- Use the correct wattage light bulbs for all of your lighting needs.
- If you suspect your home has outdated wiring, get it checked out with an electrician to ensure it is safe, or find out if it needs updating.
- If you notice burned or not working outlets, experience a burning smell, or have continuous flickering lights, call an electrician immediately to check your electricity before there’s time for an electrical fire.
When hiring Xcalibur Services for your electrical service needs, our wiring and rewiring experts will handle the entire process for you. Whether you need one room rewired or require new wiring installed throughout the entire property, our team of electricians has the skills and tools to get the job done right! Call (205) 628-8724, and one of our customer service representatives will get you scheduled!