According to the 2019 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, the leading cause of property damage from home fires was due to faulty electrical distribution equipment like old wiring, overloaded outlets, and frayed extension cords. Every year, there is an average of 35,000 fires that result in 500 deaths, over 1,100 injuries, and cost nearly $1.5 billion in damages. Those statistics should have every homeowner take pause and reevaluate the health of their home’s electrical system.
Understanding what electrical hazards pose the greatest threat to your household is the first step to safeguarding your home from a potential electrical fire. Here is an easy guide to the most common causes of electrical fires and how to help protect you and your family from future harm.
6 Ways to Prevent Electrical Fires
While the statistics offered by the NFPA may paint a troubling picture, fortunately, the vast majority of electrical fires can be easily prevented if the proper safety precautions are in place. We have put together a list of the dos and don’ts of home electrical safety. It may be a good idea to share this list with the entire family and make it a group effort.
Don’t Overload Outlets
Overloading outlets is one of the most common mistakes most homeowners make. This is especially the case in older homes where there simply aren’t enough outlets to handle all of today’s modern technologies and demanding appliances. It is important to remember that your home’s electrical circuits are only equipped to provide a limited amount of electricity to each outlet at a given time. When you overload an outlet, it may cause the outlet to spark and lead to an electrical fire.
Overburdening outlets with power strips and extension cords is a big ‘no-no’. Extension cords and power strips, while convenient, are designed for temporary use. To solve this common problem and prevent a possible electrical fire, you may want to contact a local electrician to outfit your home with more outlets and update the wiring of your property.
Lastly, while you have an electrician handy, you may want to ask them to confirm that the surge protectors in your home have an internal circuit breaker that will preemptively shut off power if an anomaly is detected. This will act as an extra layer of protection should any problems arise.
Retire Old Appliances
We understand that times are tough, and the last thing that most people want to add to their list of expenses is a new appliance. Especially if that appliance is a sizable investment like a new refrigerator. But an electrical fire can cost you much more, not to mention the safety hazard it presents to your family. Down to the toaster oven, if any of your appliances are showing any of these signs of wear and tear, replace them immediately. You may find great deals and payment plans available to offset the initial cost of high-ticket items.
- The appliance has a severely mangled or frayed electrical cord
- You see a spark when you turn it on
- Excessive heat coming from the appliance
- Your appliance leaves burn marks around a socket or fixture
- When you turn on your appliance it blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker
Pay attention to the warning signs and don’t just brush them off. Replacing outdated appliances may seem like a large expense, but the alternative is much more costly and grave.
Unplug Unused Appliances
According to some reports, it is rumored that the average family has at least four dozen appliances or devices plugged in at any given time. Obviously it isn’t required that you unplug your entertainment center or refrigerator before you leave the house, but smaller appliances like toaster ovens, curling irons, string lighting, and gaming consoles should be unplugged when you’re away from home. And always, always unplug space heaters and heated blankets.
Getting into the habit of unplugging smaller appliances and electronics when they are not in use is a fantastic preventative measure to prevent electrical fires. It will also save you money on your electric bill. Remember, even if your printer or flat iron is turned to the ‘off’ position, it doesn’t mean it still isn’t draining power from your electric system. Save yourself the worry and the expense by unplugging smaller appliances and devices when they are not in use.
Remove Flammable Objects Near Outlets
Absolutely avoid pushing things like cardboard boxes up against outlets. The same goes for placing furniture, curtains, or any flammable item in front of an outlet. While some outlets may be safe, in homes with older outlets, you should always keep them clear of obstructions. If the outlet is faulty in any way, it could generate more heat than usual or even spark for no reason at all and cause a fire. Instead of chancing it, simply make sure your outlets are left free and clear of anything blocking them.
Reduce Space Heater Usage
Space heaters are a leading cause of electrical fires. Not only do they crank out an excessive amount of heat, but they gobble up a ton of energy, which could lead to overloading your circuits and causing damage. If you must use a space heater during a cold winter, try running it at half the power instead of full power. Also, be sure there are no combustible or flammable objects in its path. And most importantly, always turn it off and unplug your space heater when you leave the room.
Schedule an Electrical Safety Inspection
Even if you follow all of the aforementioned precautions, it is still an excellent idea to get a thorough electrical safety inspection from a licensed electrician to check on the health of your home’s electrical system. They will check to see if your electrical panel, circuit breakers, and wiring is up-to-date and advise you on any repairs and updates that need to be made to ensure the continued safety of your home and family.
Contact a Licensed Electrician to Conduct an Electrical Safety Inspection
Express Electrical is taking steps to follow CDC guidelines to the letter in regards to COVID-19. We are enacting added safety precautions to ensure our customers and their home environments are left undisturbed. Express Electrical considers our customers family and wants to give you the peace of mind you deserve in this trying time.
Express Electrical Services encourages homeowners to routinely get an electrical safety inspection to avoid potential fire hazards. We offer superior Los Angeles electrical inspections and rewiring services. Both will add value to your property and give you peace of mind for years to come. To find out more, call us today at 323.727.7799.