Up until 2016, electrical failures were the second most common cause of home fires in the US. During this period, 13% (44,880) of home fires were due to electrical malfunctions. Each year, they caused a staggering $1.3 billion in direct property damage.
Even in 2018, electrical problems still caused 6.8% (25,800) of home fires. Appliance malfunctions also accounted for 6.2% (over 23,500) of fires. These incidents contributed to a total dollar loss of $25.6 billion.
With that said, now’s the best time to learn how to prevent electrical fires at home. The more you know, the lower your risks of having a fire starting at and burning down your house.
Ready to learn about the top home electrical fire prevention methods to implement ASAP? Then let’s get this list started!
Don’t Ignore Mini Blackouts
Blackouts have become more common in the US, with 3,500 incidents occurring in 2017 alone. That year, power outages affected an estimated 37 million people.
If the blackouts only happen in your home, though, they’re most likely due to a faulty circuit breaker. This is especially true if the power loss takes place when you switch on certain appliances. These include power-hungry or high-voltage appliances like your electric furnace or air conditioner.
All those power outages are likely due to a tripping circuit breaker. Whenever your circuit breaker trips, it means that your electrical system has overloaded. As such, the breaker cuts the electricity flow by tripping.
However, if it always trips, then that can mean the breaker has reached its maximum capacity. An internal breaker component may have also reached its last legs. Leave this unfixed, and your breaker can completely fail, which can render it unable to trip when it has to.
If this happens, a fire can start since your electrical system will continue to draw so much power. With nothing to stop the electrical overload, the system can overheat to the point of creating a fire.
With that said, have a trusted electrician inspect your breaker if it causes a lot of mini blackouts. Your breaker may either only need fixing or, if it’s too old, a full replacement.
Be on the Lookout for Dead or Burned Outlets
Many old outlets are either dead or have scorch marks on them. Burn marks are often a sign that outlets have low amperage capacity. That’s why plugging in a modern appliance into these outlets can make them spark, hence the burn marks.
Sometimes, live outlets can seem dead because they no longer have tight and secure holes. The expansion of the holes can result in loose cord connections. Either way, loose outlets are often a sign of old age or severe wear and tear.
Cords plugged into loose outlets can also cause the electrical wires to build up excess heat. That’s because the prongs of the plug may not have adequate contact with the outlet’s wires. This can then interfere with the flow of electricity, causing burn marks on the outlet panel.
If you see any burned wall outlet covers, don electrical gloves and remove anything plugged in. Don’t use that outlet until a licensed electrician has inspected and fixed it. It’s possible that you already fried or have faulty wirings behind that outlet.
Minimize Use of Extension Cords
Speaking of dead outlets, overloaded circuits can also result in non-working wall outlets. Overloading often occurs in outlets with too many electronics plugged into them. This is especially common in outlets that have multiple extension cords plugged in.
If you need to use an extension cord, use it only as a way to extend the reach of a device with a short cable. Limit the stuff that you plug into extension cords to those that have low amp requirements.
Use Power Surge Protectors
Power surges can occur right after a power outage. They can also happen due to fluctuations within the electricity grid itself. In any case, these power surges carry and deliver a massive amount of electricity.
If a power surge enters your home, it can bring excessive amounts of electricity to your wires. All that electricity, in turn, can fry up appliances and devices connected to wall outlets.
So, if you’re just about to buy extension cords, go for those that come with power surge protection. They can help reduce electricity flow from power surges. They can also help prevent sparks that may arise following a power surge.
Set Up Cooking Alarms
Everyone will forget something at some point in their lives. However, one of the last things you want to forget is to turn off an electric stove or unplug the coffee maker. Otherwise, they can overheat and start a fire.
So, when you’re baking or when you need to let food simmer on the electric stovetop, remind yourself with an alarm. Your oven may have a timer and an automatic switch, but it’s best to have an extra alarm, such as on your phone. This is one of the best tricks on how to prevent electrical fires at home while also keeping food waste at bay.
Don’t forget to unplug your cooking or heat-producing appliances after use, too. Even if they’re on “standby” (such as a coffeemaker on warm mode), that still means they’re creating heat. If they generate too much heat, they can catch fire, which can spread throughout your home.
Follow Clearance Recommendations
Electrical appliances, like microwaves, stovetops, ranges, ovens, and air conditioners, have clearance requirements. Adequate clearance is necessary for proper air circulation. Sufficient airflow, in turn, keeps these devices cool enough to avoid overheating.
Appliances have their own clearance recommendations, so be sure to check their manual. Also, avoid placing combustibles and flammable materials near these devices.
Use This Guide on How to Prevent Electrical Fires Now
There you have it, some of the most critical steps on how to prevent electrical fires at home. As a final tip, it’s best to avoid DIY repairs on anything related to electricity. If you have faulty electrical components at home, it’s best to call up an electrician.
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