Tips to Protect Your Home from an Electrical Fire

By: Tom Hartel
You do not often think about the risk of electrical fire when you plug something in, but maybe it is time you did. Electricity is one of the top three leading causes of structure fires in the United States along with cooking and heating. There is an outlet in every room in your home or office and anything that uses them could be a potential fire hazard. Like anything else, electrical systems run the risk of damage and everyday wear and tear. That is why it is essential to take precautions against electrical fire and be aware of certain dangers of everyday household items.

However, you can rest easy knowing there are safety measures you can take to prevent property damage or loss of life. Here are a few precautions:

Outlets

Make sure all outlets are in good working order. If a plug fits loosely in the socket it may be a spark or shock hazard. Any cracked or broken plates may also expose wiring and should be replaced. If you or a professional are working on any outlets be sure to not leave the area exposed without a plate for long periods of time.

If children will be around outlets, extra measures should be taken to deter small and curious hands. Any unused outlets should be covered. But the models that cover both used and unused outlets from prying hands are a better option for families.

Rooms with large, high voltage or outdoor appliances should be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). These are the outlets you see with two buttons in the center (typically red and black). The best places for these are the garage, laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, basement, and outdoor living spaces. GFCI outlets monitor the electricity going to a device and cut the power if they experience interruptions, decreasing your risk for electrical fires.

Plugs and Accessories

If you are having trouble getting a plug to fit in an outlet, never force it. The third prong on the plug should also never be removed. It is better to replace two-pronged outlets with three-pronged outlets. The third prong is called a Ground Prong and acts as a safety measure in the event of a surge. If the ground circuit is intact, then it can blow a fuse and stop power to the outlet in the event of an emergency.

All cords plugged into outlets should be completely intact. If the cords look frayed or have exposed wiring, they may short and cause a fire. When removing a plug from an outlet, it should be firmly grabbed from the end instead of yanking on the cord. Pulling on the cord wears it out over time.

Extension cords should only be used temporarily as they are not meant to be permanent electrical fixtures. Use gaffers’ tape to keep cords down or out of the way and never nail or staple them.

Surge protectors should also be used for electronics like computers and television sets that can be damaged in the event of a surge. You should also never overload outlets. Outlet splitters should be kept to a minimum to avoid any A Christmas Story type incidents. Most standard outlets are not meant to handle so much power output.

Large Appliances

If any of your large appliances break do not try to tinker with the electrical components yourself have them looked at professionally. If an appliance blows a fuse often or sparks, then it is probably time to look into replacing it.

It is best not to use refurbished appliances. Though they may cost less they are most likely working with out of date or damaged technology. Make sure replacements meet modern safety standards. The UL seal of approval on appliances is a trusted way to tell that a product meets electrical safety standards.

If an appliance is defective from the get-go or becomes defective shortly after purchasing it, that may be a sign of faulty wiring or poor electrical work. These products should be returned as soon as possible. Using faulty equipment puts you at a much higher risk of an electrical fire.

Small Appliances

It is a good idea to disconnect small appliances like coffee makers, toasters, or hair dryers when you leave the house. Small appliances may also be inspected to meet UL safety standards, but in a power surge, it is best not to have these items plugged in. Most smaller appliances don’t have a ground prong to protect against interruptions and can short causing an electrical fire.

Unplugging small appliances when you clean them is also extremely important. Cleaning usually involves flammable or conductive materials. If you must disassemble any components on an appliance to clean it, you may be at even more of a risk if it is still plugged in.

Lights

Lightbulbs wattage should always match the requirements of the fixture. When a lightbulb needs to be replaced hold onto the old bulb or write down the wattage. The wattage can also typically be found written on the socket of the fixture. Make sure lightbulbs are screwed in securely to prevent overheating and burning out.

An additional safety measure you can take is ensuring that your sprinkler system has been inspected. If any renovations are made to a building, sprinkler heads should be moved and added as needed. Adding a sprinkler system to your home may also be a good idea. This does not prevent electrical fires but will certainly help if a fire starts. An electrical fire can start even if no one is around. A sprinkler system can prevent minimize property damage even if no one is there to call the fire department.

At Valley Fire Protection and Plumbing we offer fire protection solutions that will give you peace of mind the next time you go to plug something in. Give us a call today!

Related Topics: electrical fire // Fire Protection
By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.

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