According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical fires and electrical failures or malfunctions result in an average of 53,600 home fires each year. These fires cause more than 500 deaths, injure 1,400 people and account for $1.4 billion in property damage. Electrical fires are one of the leading types of home fire, especially in manufactured homes. Many home electrical fires can prevented with basic electrical maintenance. More electrical fires occur during the winter months when there is an increase in lighting, heating and appliance use. Most winter electrical wiring fires start in a bedroom from a space heater. Many home electrical fires are caused by improper installation of electrical devices by do-it-yourselfers. If you are a beginner do-it-yourselfer, leave the electrical work to the professionals. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Tips for Preventing Home Electrical Fires:
Extension Cord Safety
Overloaded extension cords are a common place for electrical fires to start. Try to refrain from using extension cords, and certainly avoid overloading an extension cord with too many appliances. It can cause the extension cord to overheat and catch fire.
Electrical Cord Safety
Placing electrical cords under a carpet is a serious fire risk and should never be done. Every month, inspect the electrical cords in your home for any damage, such as cracks or frayed wires.
Sockets and Switches
Are any of your switches or sockets warm? Warm sockets or switches could be a sign of a serious electrical problem. Call a professional to check the wiring. Take care to remove electrical cords from wall sockets gently. Do not pull the plug out of the socket by yanking the cord. Insert two-pronged and three-pronged plugs in their correct sockets, only.
Flickering lights are a common lighting problem; they do not always mean that there is an electrical problem. A reoccurring flickering light should be checked as it could be caused by a loose circuit connection. A loose circuit could cause dangerous overheating. Have an electrician check any flickering lights to rule out a serious electrical problem.
Every winter, there are tragic stories of fires caused by space heaters. Never leave a space heater unattended; keep space heaters away from drapery or any other flammable items. Purchase only good-quality heaters and use them only when necessary.
An overloaded circuit breaker box is dangerous. Have an electrician evaluate your circuit breaker box to check for overloaded circuits. Many older homes were not built with a large enough amp circuit breaker. The average American home needs a 200 amp circuit breaker.
Conduct a monthly inspection of your appliances. A malfunctioning appliance could start an electrical fire. Check that all the cords are intact and that everything is functioning properly.
Underwriters Laboratory (UL)
When purchasing electrical devices, only select ones that carry the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approval.
Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances. Small electrical appliances, such as hair dryers and irons, should be kept out of the reach of children.
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