Common Causes of Electrical Fires & How to Prevent
Electrical fires are among the most dangerous and destructive types of fire. They can occur suddenly and spread quickly, often resulting in extensive damage to property and serious injuries or even death.
Electrical fires are not uncommon in Fort Collins. In fact, they are one of the most common types of fires in the city. There are several different factors that can contribute to an electrical fire, including faulty electrical outlets, outdated appliances, light fixtures, light bulbs, misuse of extension cords, space heaters, and outdated wiring—just to name a few. Read on to learn the most common causes of electrical fires and what you can do to prevent them.
Common Causes of Electrical Fires
One of the most common causes of electrical fires is faulty wiring. This can happen when wires are not properly installed or maintained, and they can start to overheat and catch fire.
Overloading Outlets and Circuits
Other wire-related causes of electrical fires include overloaded outlets and circuits, damaged or frayed cords, and improper use of extension cords.
Dryer Lint Accumulation
Another common cause of electrical fires is failure to clean out dryer lint. Over time, this can create a serious fire hazard. Be sure to clean your dryer lint trap regularly, and don’t leave lint around the dryer itself.
Allowing Devices to Overheat
Any device that produces heat can start a fire if it’s left on for too long or isn’t properly ventilated. This includes space heaters, hair dryers, irons, and even laptops. If you’re using any of these devices, be sure to unplug them when you’re not using them and keep them away from flammable materials like curtains and bedding.
Using Too Many Extension Cords
As the weather gets colder and we start to use more electrical devices to stay warm, the risk of fire increases. One of the leading causes of residential fires is faulty wiring, and this is often the result of using too many extension cords.
Extension cords are a convenient way to bring power to devices that are far from an outlet, but they need to be used correctly to avoid a fire hazard. When using extension cords, make sure not to overload them by plugging in too many devices. Also, make sure to inspect them regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks in the insulation.
If you have any doubts about whether an extension cord is safe to use, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not use it.
Dust can also be a major fire hazard. If you let it accumulate, it can easily catch fire. Be sure to dust all your surfaces regularly and vacuum any carpeted areas.
Pests can also be a major problem. If you have rodents or other pests in your home, they can easily gnaw through electrical wires, causing a fire. Be sure to keep your home clean and free of pests.
One of the leading causes of electrical fires is loose-fitting plugs. When a plug isn’t snug against the outlet, it can cause arcing (a spark of electricity). This can easily ignite flammable materials nearby, leading to a fire. To prevent this, make sure all your plugs fit snugly in their outlets.
Another common cause of electrical fires is space heaters. If a space heater is placed too close to flammable materials, it can easily start a fire. To prevent this, keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Additionally, only use space heaters that have been certified by a recognized testing laboratory.
Candles and Cigarettes
Be careful with candles and cigarettes too. Never leave them unattended, and make sure they’re placed away from any flammable materials.
By being aware of these common causes of electrical fires, you can help prevent them from happening in your home—read on to get more prevention tips!
Preventing Electrical Fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 50,000 home fires are caused by electrical problems each year, resulting in over 500 deaths and $1.4 billion in property damage.
Many of these fires are preventable with a little bit of knowledge and some basic safety precautions. But even if you take all the right steps, accidents can still happen. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the signs that your home might be at risk for an electrical fire, and to know what to do if one breaks out.
To prevent electrical fires, it is important to have your wiring checked regularly by a licensed electrician. You should also avoid overloading outlets and circuits and be sure to unplug appliances when you’re not using them. If you must use extension cords, be sure to choose ones that are rated for the wattage of the appliance you’re using them with. And always make sure to keep cords away from sources of heat.
What to Do If an Electrical Fire Occurs
If an electrical fire does occur in your home, it is important to have a plan in place so that everyone knows what to do. You should have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, and everyone in your family should know how to escape quickly and safely if a fire does break out. It is also important to have a designated meeting place outside so that everyone can account for each other after evacuating the house. Act quickly and safely. Turn off the power at the breaker box if possible, and then evacuate the premises. Do not attempt to put out the fire yourself; instead, call 911 and let the professionals handle it.
Signs that Your Home Might Be at Risk for an Electrical Fire
If you’re concerned that your home might be at risk for an electrical fire, there are some key signs to look out for. These include:
- Frequent power outages or brownouts
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Sparks or arcs of electricity when plugging in appliances or outlets
- Burning or rubbery smells near electrical outlets or wires
- Discolored or charred outlet covers or receptacles
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s important to act immediately. Call a licensed electrician to come and inspect your home’s electrical system. They can identify any potential risks and help you take steps to avoid an electrical fire.
Call Allen Service Today!
At Allen Service, we are committed to helping keep your home or business safe from fires of all kinds. We offer a wide range of electrical services, including repair and replacement of outlets, fixtures, and wiring. We can also help you upgrade your electrical system to make it safer and more efficient. Contact us today to schedule an electrical safety inspection in Fort Collins.