It’s not only faulty wiring that starts electrical fires; human error is often to blame. Whether it’s a worn out electrical cord or a space heater left on – we all need to take care to prevent electrical fires.
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 47,820 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction every year from 2007 until 2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.
Help prevent electrical fires:
- Avoid overloading outlets.
- Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
- Don’t use light bulbs at a higher wattage than the fixture.
- Keep areas around electrical equipment clear of combustibles such as sawdust, paper, cardboard and flammable liquids.
- Prevent oil and dirt buildup on electrical appliances.
- Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
- Shut off all electrical equipment that produces odd sounds, odd smells or sparks.
- If outlets or switches feel warm, have frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuits, or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.
- In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles.
- Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in the kitchen bathroom(s), laundry, basement, and outdoor areas.
Never attempt to douse an electrical fire with water, as this can lead to electrocution. Instead, have a fire extinguisher available that is rated “A-B-C,” which means that it is capable of combating electrical fires. If you need to use a fire extinguisher make sure you keep an exit clear and that everyone else in the house is exiting, and someone is calling 911. Fire extinguishers can be forceful so stand a few feet from the fire when you use it.