April 12


9 Ways to Prevent Residential Electrical Fires

By pallardy

April 12, 2022

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were an estimated 354,400 residential fires in 2019, causing 2,830 deaths and 12,625 injuries. Cooking mishaps and portable space heaters are two top causes of residential fires. 

Electrical fires cause an estimated 46,700 residential fires each year. Most residential electrical fires result from problems with faulty or damaged electrical wiring and related electrical equipment, including appliances, lamps, lightbulbs, and extension cords. Many electrical fires can be prevented by following some basic electrical safety precautions. 

Protect Your Family by Following These Safety Tips:

1. Update Old Electrical Systems

There are several warning signs that your home may need updated wiring. Many homes built in the 1960s and 1970s have aluminum wiring, which corrodes more easily than copper and increases fire risk. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that a qualified electrician replace or repair aluminum wiring. Upgrading your home’s electrical panel may be necessary to meet increased electrical demands from modern appliances and devices.

2. Don’t Misuse Extension Cords or Power Strips

Extension cords can overheat and cause over 3,000 residential fires each year. It’s important to follow all safety precautions when using any extension cord or power strip. Never run cords under doors or carpets, and make sure cords are in good condition. If you are relying on extension cords or power strips regularly, consider having an electrician install additional outlets where they are needed.

3. Use the Recommended Wattage For Light Fixtures 

Light fixtures and lamps are marked with the highest recommended bulb wattage. Exceeding the recommended wattage can cause light fixtures to overheat and spark a fire. LED bulbs are energy-efficient and reduce the risk of overheating. Draping cloth or paper over a lampshade can also start a fire. 

4. Replace Outdated or Damaged Appliances

Older appliances do not meet modern safety standards for materials and construction. Outdated appliances, including toasters, mixers, coffee pots, and microwaves, are more likely to have frayed cords or loose wiring. Regularly inspect appliances for signs of wear or damage. Any devices that make strange noises or produce a burning smell should be repaired or replaced.

5. Avoid Overloading Outlets

Electrical circuits send power to each outlet, but there is a limit on how much each circuit can safely handle. Plug only one heat-producing device into an outlet at a time. Never use adapters, extension cords, or surge protectors with refrigerators, ovens, or other major appliances.

6. Install GFCIs In Areas Near Water

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard. GFCIs are required anywhere electrical appliances and water may be present, including kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and near sump pumps. All outdoor receptacles should be GFCI protected as well. Since a GFCI detects an abnormal flow of electricity and shuts off the power, they are an essential tool for preventing shock or electrocution. 

7. Install Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

According to the National Fire Protection Association, arc faults are a leading cause of electrical fires. In new home construction, arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are now required in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and other gathering areas. The function of the AFCI is to protect the branch circuit wiring from dangerous arcing that can initiate an electrical fire. Unlike a standard circuit breaker, an AFCI uses advanced electronic technology to “sense” different arcing conditions. 

8. Be Cautious With Space Heaters

Faulty or unattended portable space heaters are a common cause of residential fires. Only purchase portable heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). When you use a portable heater, follow all safety instructions. Avoid placing space heaters near curtains, beds, couches, or other flammable materials. Space heaters should be unplugged when not in use. 

9. Don’t Ignore Electrical Issues

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, problems with electrical systems are a top cause of residential fires each year. Call an electrician immediately if you notice lights that flicker, outlets that spark or are warm to the touch, circuit breakers that repeatedly trip, or unusual buzzing sounds or odors coming from your electrical system. 

Call a Local Trusted Electrician

When you need electrical work for your home or business, call on Pallardy Electric. We’ve been serving St. Charles and St. Louis counties since 2001. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured for your safety and protection. Call us at (636) 202-1794 to schedule a free estimate.