In the latest data released to date by the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical fires were the cause for a total of 16.4% of household fires in 2016 – this is a major problem because 6.8% of the fires caused injuries and 9.6% of the fires resulted in death.
Electrical fires can occur from household wiring shortfalls or even appliance failure, but also from accidental overload placed on extension cords or outlets. Keep the following tips in mind to prevent household electrical fires.
Space Heater Misuse
Since this type of heater can be moved, space heaters are often accidentally placed far too close to flammable items like chairs, beds, curtains, couches, rugs, and clothing. Radiator space heaters tend to be safer – they have a lower likelihood of catching fire as they spread heat output around the whole surface of the heater.
Defective Appliances and Outlets
Some causes of electrical fires include gas leaks from appliances, placing cords underneath rugs. Never tamper with a grounding prong; appliance cords are equipped with a third grounding prong to ensure that they can only be placed in outlets with the electricity capability for that type of appliance. Also, beware of cord wear and tear – appliances that have frayed or worn cords can transmit heat to other flammable items like rugs, curtains, and floors, which can also cause a fire.
“Many household fires are started from appliances that are outdated, and we recommend having them inspected if they’re much older in order to avoid fire. Certain appliances need replacement after as little as 10 years, and dryer fires are a specific cause for concern when appliances become older,” stated Steve Lewis, president and CEO of Ambient Edge.
Extension Cord Dangers
Another common cause of electrical fires is misusing extension cords. It is never safe for an appliance to be plugged into an extension cord, even for a short duration of time. Extension cords are intended to be a temporary solution. If your house has outlets that do not fit your appliances, to avoid fire you should seriously consider having an electrician install new outlets.
Out-of-date wiring can also cause electrical fires. Older homes that were built more than 20 years ago might not have a sturdy enough wiring capability to be able to manage the electricity voltage increase that many appliances use in our modern age.
When the circuits become overloaded, flip the breaker to help prevent fire. Some breaker boxes that are out of date have connectors that are worn out and won’t operate effectively – this is when the system can become burdened and an electrical fire could start.
Lamps, light bulbs, and light fixtures are other frequent causes of electrical fires. To avoid fire, never exceed the suggested lamp wattage, and be sure that the light fixture or lamp you’re using is not broken to begin with. Lamps can also start fires if paper or fabric is placed on top of a lampshade.