One of the most common causes of fire in a home is electricity. Electrical malfunctions account for nearly 15% of all house fires in the United States and lead to personal and financial loss to thousands of home and business owners each year. Unlike other forms of natural disasters (such as severe weather, tornadoes, or floods), electrical fires can, for the large part, be prevented. Today we are going to discuss some electrical fire prevention tips that could save your home – and life.
HOW TO PREVENT ELECTRICAL FIRES
With more than 25,000 electrical fires being reported in the United States each year (which result in injury or death to roughly 1500 Americans annually), the importance of fire safety cannot be understated. Fires started by electricity tend to be more costly from a financial perspective as well, dealing more property damage than their non-electrical counterpart. And unlike traditional home fires, those of the electrical nature can – in most instances – be prevented, with a little thought and action by the homeowner.
OVERLOADING ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
Perhaps the easiest cause of electrical fires to avoid is overloading. Overloading a socket or outlet occurs when a homeowner or employee (in the event of a business fire) plugs too many cords or utilities into an outlet, power strip, or extension cord. You have probably seen this happen a dozen times – a power strip full of tangled cords with another extension cord piggybacking off of it.
This is a big no-no in the fire prevention world. If you do have to rely upon extension cords or power strips for additional electrical outlets, make sure you purchase the kind that has built-in overload protection (it should say so on the product packaging). This ensures the power strip will shut off in the event that it does, indeed, become overloaded, possibly preventing a fire.
CHECK FOR DAMAGED PLUGS AND CORDS
Another cheap and simple way to protect your home from electrical fires is to inspect your appliances and electronics for any damage. Specifically, schedule a day to go through all of your electrical cords and plugs to look for frayed wires or damaged connectors. Doing this at the change of every season is a good way to keep on schedule and can prevent the outbreak of a serious fire in your home.
HIRE A HOME INSPECTOR
Old homes have old wiring, and the older the wiring, the more likely there is to be an issue with it. Even if you have a newer home, hiring an inspector to conduct a home inspection is not a bad idea, as some electrical contractors cut corners (or worse – do not know what they are doing), and you may have bad or outdated wiring in your home (think aluminum wiring or an insufficient electrical panel for instance).
The cost of a home inspection is much cheaper than the cost of fire and smoke damage that can result from a fire. As with any contractor, be sure to conduct your due diligence and research any home inspector before allowing them onto your property.