Electrical fires account for 6.3% of residential fires and many industrial fires. Using electricity is required for modern living. According to electrical contractors, it is important to identify the causes of these types of fires, and what can be done to prevent them. In the workplace, these types of fires can cause millions in damage, and put the lives of all your employees in danger. Pinpointing where the greatest risks are in your facility, and taking steps to minimize them, will help to keep everyone safe. Here are some of the most common causes of fires:
- Outdated or Worn-Out Electrical Wiring
How old is your home? Houses built more than 20 years ago most likely have antiquated wiring. Unfortunately, outdated wiring is a leading cause of house fires. It doesn’t have the capacity to meet the demands of modern technology and energy consumption, so you may notice frequent circuit breaker overloads, power outages, or other signs of bad wiring.
- Faulty Electrical Outlets
Did you know most electrical fires start in outlets? Ungrounded outlets are more likely to spark, form an electrical arc, or catch on fire. Even grounded outlets can start a fire if the wiring behind them loosens. Outlets can help prevent fires by tripping the circuit in the event of a short.
Inspect outlets regularly. Look for signs of wear, including soot around the sockets or switches. If the wires are loose, tightening them will reduce the chances of a fire.
- Electrical Circuit Overloads
Plugging too many cords into a single power source is a recipe for disaster. Avoid using a single extension cord to power multiple appliances and electronics at once. Overloading the circuit will wear out the system and could result in a fire.
- Old Appliances
Sure, that toaster from the 1960s may look cool, but it’s probably not safe to use. Older appliances are not up to modern standards when it comes to materials, construction, and safety regulations. Furthermore, outdated appliances are more likely to have frayed cords or loose wiring.
Inspect appliances for signs of electrical damage. Any appliances that make strange noises or produce a burning smell should be inspected by an appliance repair expert. Replace faulty appliances with new models that follow current safety standards.
- Light Fixtures
Not all light bulbs work with every fixture. Installing a high-wattage bulb in an incompatible lamp is a top cause of electrical fires. Covering the lamp with a makeshift cloth lampshade may also result in a fire.
Double-check the wattage before installing new light bulbs. If a light fixture gets too hot when in use, it’s time to replace it. Only use commercial lampshades designed to fit the shape and size of your fixture.
Tips to Protect Your Family from Electrical Fires
Even if you follow all the safety precautions and rules, it’s not always possible to prevent all electrical fires. If one breaks out, be prepared to protect your family. Never use electronics with frayed, broken, or crimped wires. They may spark and ignite.
The best way to prevent electrical fires is to make sure that all electrical work is done by a trained electrician. Many companies try to save money by having other employees perform simple electrical work, but that is quite dangerous. One small mistake can result in a fire that costs thousands, or even more. In addition, you should have any electrical systems inspected and tested for potential issues regularly so you can spot problems and address them before a fire occurs.