An electrical fire is a very real threat to your home, so you need to be aware of how they happen. Even if you’re being careful, you may find that you’re actually at risk of a fire in your home.
Here’s what can raise your risk of an electrical fire, and how to prevent them.
1. Faulty Wiring
This is something that you may not even be aware of in your home, but it’s a ticking time bomb. Older wiring isn’t designed for the heavy loads you place on them in your modern lifestyle. With phones, laptops, TVs, gaming consoles, and more, it can very easily overload your outlet and start a fire. Right now, with more people working from home due to COVID-19, there’s even more risk of fire as more pressure is put on wiring for longer every day.
If your home is over 20 years old, then your wiring is very much susceptible to overloading and catching fire. In most cases, if something happens, your breakers should trip, which then will cut off the power supply to the affected area. If your breaker system is outdated though, the connectors may be worn out and not connect if something does go wrong.
The key to avoiding this is to have your wiring inspected regularly. If you rent your home, then this is something that your landlord should be organizing and getting done for you. If you own your home, it’s recommended that you hire an electrician to do an inspection every 10 years. They will be able to identify any problem areas and recommend any work that needs to be done to avoid the risk of fire.
2. Faulty Outlets or Electrical Goods
You’ll see that most electrical fires are actually started by faulty outlets and electrical goods, so these are something that you need to keep a close eye on. When about to use an appliance, always check the cord on it. Frayed cords can lead to electrical fires, so dispose of the electrical item correctly in order to avoid this happening.
If you’re using older appliances, fires are also a risk here too. Older appliances may not be properly rated for fire resistance, so you’ll be more likely to see them start fires.
Sometimes, people run cables under rugs in order to place electrical items just where they need them. Again, this will be more common for those looking to create home offices right now. However, these generate heat and will lead to fires, so you need to ensure you’re not doing this.
Finally, there’s the issue of people adapting their own electronics. Some people have been known to remove the grounding from a plug, in order to be used in a two prong outlet. This causes fires, as the extra prong ensures it can only be plugged into outlets that can handle that extra electricity.
3. Misuse of Electrical Extension Cords
On the subject of electrical outlets, let’s look at electrical cords. These are useful for bringing an electrical outlet to another area, but they’re not designed to be a permanent measure. If you’re using electrical cords, they should only be used temporarily. If appliances are plugged into them for extended periods of time, you’ll see that you’re at an increased risk of an electrical fire.
If you need to use an extension lead, only leave it plugged in as long as you’re using the appliance in question. As soon as you’re done, unplug the extension lead and the appliances to reduce the risk of fire.
If you’re finding that you’re having to do this often, you may find that you’ll need extra electrical outlets. Hire an electrician to install new ones for you, in areas that will work best for you.
4. Light Fixtures
Your light fixtures are another electrical fire risk, if they are not handled correctly. This is for two reasons.
First, you may be using light bulbs that are too high a wattage for the light fixture that you are using it in. If the bulb is too high a wattage, it will draw too much power and can lead to electrical fires. Always check the recommended wattage for any light fixture you’re using, and never go over it.
Second, lights are more likely to cause fires when there is something draped over them. This is done for several reasons, such as dimming the light, or for decorative reasons. The problem is, this also leads to electrical fires. The cloth or paper heats up and ignites, starting the fire. Keep extra items off your light fixtures to avoid this from happening.
5. Misuse of Space Heaters
As you move into the colder months, it’ll be more tempting to use space heaters. As you’re staying at home more often, you need your space to be warm as the temperature drops outside. Used responsibly, they can be a useful tool. The problem is that they so often cause fires.
The fires usually happen as space heaters are ported around the house, and placed near combustible objects. For example, you’ll see that beds, clothing, cushions, curtains and so on have all been caught on fire thanks to space heaters being too close to them. Use a space heater in a clear area, away from soft furnishings and other combustibles. As an additional note, never use a space heater to dry wet clothes for this reason.
The best space heaters to use are radiator style heaters. This is because they diffuse heat over a wider area. Because of this, they’re less likely to ignite flammable items. However, they don’t eliminate the risk of fire, so still ensure you’re using them with caution.
These are the five most common causes of electrical fires in homes today. It looks worrying, but if you take care and follow the advice listed here, you can prevent them from happening. Take care with electrical items, and have your wiring test to ensure that you’re safe and sound at home.