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Safety guide: How to prevent electrical fires in your home

on 2017-08-13 09:38:00


Losing a home to an electrical fire is devastating. These types of fires are the top cause of structural damage in the U.S. Between 2010 and 2014 electrical fires caused $1.4 billion in direct structural damage.

How do you make sure your home isn’t at risk of an electrical fire? This guide will walk you through the process of securing your property, investigating potential problems and eliminating unnecessary hazards.

1.   Replace damaged or loose electrical cords.

Power cords sustain a lot of damage over time as they are moved around, shoved in the bottom of drawers, in the back of closets or the bottom of a bag.

When a power cord is frayed and showing the layers beneath the rubber coating, it is time to replace it. Keeping this cords are a huge safety hazard. Don’t worry it doesn’t mean you have to throw out your favorite power tool or buy a new appliance. It is just as easy to change it to a new power cord.


2.   Install tamper resistant receptacle in homes with young children.

Children are curious little creatures who will try anything including putting objects like their tiny fingers or toys in an electrical receptacle. This is incredibly dangerous because the shock they sustain could be deadly.

Even if they don’t get hurt in the process, if they deposit an object into an outlet that shouldn’t be there, it is possible it could cause an electrical fire in your home.

So after you replace all those damaged cords (or before if it is a serious concern) make your home safe for young children. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids of your own, sometimes all it takes is a little visitor.


3.   Have an electrician install additional outlets to limit the need for extension cords.

Are you running electrical cords all over your house because the structure was built half a century ago without a sufficient amount of receptacles?

This habit is increasing the risk of an electrical fire in your home. If there really isn’t enough outlets in your home, call an experienced electrician to install new ones to save you from using too many extension cords.


4.   Don’t use bulbs that have too much wattage for the socket.

If you don’t pay attention to the type of light bulb you purchase, you could be exceeding the appropriate wattage for the socket.

Just because it fits doesn’t mean the bulb will work. If you have the wrong wattage you increase your risk of an electrical fire. This is called overlamping, and if you put 100-watt light bulb in a 50-watt socket you will cause excess heat that could melt the wires and ignite the insulation in your ceiling or wall.

5.   Make sure the bathrooms and kitchen uses GFCIs.

GFCI outlets are designed to protect you from an electrical shock resulting from moisture on the end of the prongs.

These types of outlets measure the voltage entering and exiting the socket. If it senses an imbalance, it will trip the circuit to prevent injuries from electrical shock. It also helps prevent electrical home fires by turning off the electrical current to the outlet causing problems.

It is easy to spot a GFCI outlet because it has the two little buttons in the center “Test” and “Reset.” You should check these outlets functionality monthly by pushing the test button to see if it works correctly. After pushing “test,” the outlet should stop working until you hit the “reset” button. If it doesn’t stop the flow of electricity when you hit the “test” button, call an electrician to either replace or repair the receptacle.


6.   Use only one heat-producing appliance in any one receptacle.

Don’t plug a toaster oven and microwave into the same socket. These appliances can cause the receptacle to heat up very quickly. If the increased energy doesn’t trip a breaker, it could start an electrical house fire.


Designate an outlet to plug in these appliances, and if it is the same outlet, never use them both at the same time.


7.   Install appropriate detection equipment

Do you also have a working fire detector? You should be able to answer yes the question, and if you can’t, then consider making it a priority.

You can take all the right safety precautions and still have an electrical fire. Make sure you have equipment to alert you when you need to safely exit your home.

8.   Hire an inspector.

It is important to hire a home inspector during big events like selling your home or buying a new home. However, if something feels off in your home, it doesn’t hurt to hire a professional to put your mind at ease.

Do you have a home electrical question?  Give us a call at 405-651-0680 because we have answers!