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Fire Safety: How to Prevent Fire-related Electrical Problems at Home?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failure or malfunctions account for almost 34,000 home fires, annually. This results in roughly 440 deaths and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. 

This is a particular threat to homes ever since electrical wiring standards were less stringent, up to now. In fact, even newer homes with precise electrical wiring systems are also at risk for an electrical fire. 

Consequently, homeowners must know that even simple overloading of circuits or using worn extension cords can cause electrical fires. Aside from these, there are also other electrical fire dangers in your home that you should pay attention to. Some of these are not too obvious but really dangerous. 

Therefore, it’s crucial for homeowners to have proper knowledge about fire safety and preventions to avoid fire-related electrical problems.

Related article: Electrical Safety: Residential Electrical Maintenance Tips

 

Electrical Fire Safety: Warning Signs And Prevention Tips

Faulty Wiring and Electrical Systems Warning Signs

To avoid an electrical fire, you must learn to recognize the warning signs that indicate possible electrical problems. You may contact a licensed electrician immediately to examine and repair electrical systems issues. These are some of the possible warning signs that may eventually cause electrical malfunctions:

  • Repeatedly occurrences of blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers
  • Switches and outlets are hot to touch and emit an acrid odour
  • There is a flickering or dimming of lights
  • You have discoloured outlets, cords or switch plates

Lighting Malfunction Prevention Tips

Take note that combustible materials like bedding, drapery, or upholstered furniture can ignite when it was exposed to hot bulbs. You can follow these safety lighting tips to avoid light bulbs from causing electrical fires:

  • Purchase only those lamps and fixtures that are certified by underwriter’s laboratories (UL). It is an independent and not-for-profit safety testing and certification organization.
  • Do not use the improper light bulb wattage for your light, lamps and fixtures.
  • Do not place your lamps near open windows as strong breezes can blow draperies onto hot light bulbs. As much as possible, use lampshades. This can also prevent combustible materials from direct contact with a hot bulb.

Cords, Plug and Outlets Safety Tips

Remember that electric currents carried by plugs, wiring, switches, and appliances can generate heat. In addition to that, excessive or uncontrolled heat is most likely to start fires. Therefore, you must know how to use and store plugs and electrical cords to prevent electrical fires. You can take these precautions:

  • Don’t run cords under bedding, carpets, or other inflammable materials. 
  • Don’t overload outlets. Call an electrician to install additional outlets if necessary.
  • Do not use extension cords in exchange for power outlets. 
  • Dispose of torn or broken cords and never connect two cords together.
  • Avoid placing electrical cords across doorways or mostly travelled areas
  • Make sure that plugs fit perfectly in outlets to prevent shock or excess heat.

 

Fire Safety: Main Causes of Electrical Fires at Home

As a homeowner, it is important to familiarize yourself with the common causes of electrical fires to avoid it. Below are just some of the most common causes of electrical fires.

Faulty outlets, outdated and old appliances

Faulty electrical outlets and old, outdated appliances are usually the main cause of electrical fires at home. In addition, appliances cords, receptacles and switches can also start a fire. To avoid electrical fires, never use appliances with a ripped cord. Worn or ripped cords can ignite and send heat onto inflammable surfaces like carpets and curtains. Running cords under rugs or carpets can also start a fire. 

Removing the grounding plug from a cord to use in a two-prong electrical outlet can also cause an electrical fire. For appliances, plug it only to outlets for it has extra prongs that can handle the extra amount of electricity.

Outdated electrical system

Outdated electrical systems often cause electrical fires as well. If your home is over 25 years old, you must upgrade your electrical wiring/system. Outdated electrical systems may not have the capacity to handle the additional amounts of electrical appliances in today’s average home.

Also, outdated breaker boxes with worn connectors can cause the system to overload and start an electrical fire, as well.

Faulty light fixtures 

Other common reasons for electrical fires are light fixtures, light bulbs and lamps. Also, the leading cause of electrical fires is the installation of a bulb with too high wattage for the fixtures. Thus, always check the maximum recommended bulb wattage for every lighting fixture and do not go over the recommended amount.

Faulty lamps and light fixtures are also one of the common causes of an electrical fire. Another cause is placing materials such as paper or clothing over a lampshade. Those materials are inflammable, they can heat up and ignites, thus, causing a fire. 

 

Final Thoughts

Electrical fire dangers are either hidden inside the walls or too obvious not to see. Nevertheless, you must still know the proper fire safety and prevention, to keep your home away from an electrical fire. Understanding the common causes, warning signs and appropriate safety measures is a must.

If you have some residential electrical concerns, you can visit CSG Electric. We are a group of professional electricians in Toronto. You may contact us today at 416 893 9205 or email us at info@csgelectric.ca. We are happy to resolve your electrical issues either at home or at work.

Related article: What is the Importance of Electrical Safety Inspection?

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Fire Safety: How to Prevent Fire-related Electrical Problems at Home?