Electrical fires can cause serious damage to your home and put your family’s safety at risk. The good news is they can be prevented. Here are a few simple things you can do around your home to prevent an electrical fire.
Don’t Overload Outlets
Electrical circuits in your home are designed to send power to each outlet, but there’s a limit on how much each one can handle. While extension cords are handy in letting you plug in more appliances per outlet, you don’t want them to become a permanent solution. Overloading an outlet with extension cords and too many power strips can end in trouble.
This is one of the more common reasons for electrical fires, and it’s entirely preventable. If you’re plugging multiple items into one outlet, make sure you use a surge protector. And if your family has too many gadgets that all need to be plugged in at once, it’s probably time to add new outlets.
Watch for Cord or Plug Damage
If an appliance is in good shape but the cord is frayed, we know it can be tough to send the appliance to retirement. However, cords or wiring that show signs of fraying or ripping are dangerous. These can overheat more easily and need to be replaced or thrown out as soon as possible. Plugs can also show signs of damage, making them more likely to overheat and spark.
If the cord is frayed on a large appliance, you often can purchase a replacement cord. For smaller appliances and devices, like a lamp with a damaged plug, the safest option is to get rid of it.
Unplug Small Devices and Appliances When Not in Use
Nowadays, our homes are filled with many different devices and appliances. To prevent an electrical fire in your home, it’s good practice to unplug those items when you’re not using them. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “unattended, plugged-in appliances may create an unnecessary risk of fire.”
Now, we don’t mean for you to unplug your entertainment system or refrigerator. But for things like your toaster, tea kettle, heated blanket, and small appliances in your bathroom, we urge you to unplug them when not in use. It’s not only a good habit to get into, but it’s one that can save you a little money on your electricity bill, too!
Pay Attention to Light Fixtures
Your light bulbs can cause electrical fires as well. So pay attention to your light bulbs and fixtures. Combustible materials like drapery, upholstered furniture, and bedding can ignite when exposed to a hot bulb. To avoid this, make sure you’re using the right bulb wattage for all lamps and fixtures, and keep all combustible materials far away.
Update Your Home’s Electrical System
Knob-and-tube wiring, 60-amp electrical systems, and aluminum wiring tend to come with a greater risk of overheating. If you have a newer home, you likely won’t have to worry about this. If you have an older home, you should consider hiring an electrician to take a look at your electrical system.
The best way to prevent an electrical fire with an old electrical system is to upgrade it. Upgrading to an electrical system that uses modern wiring materials and has at least 100 amps will reduce your chances of a fire.
Don’t Ignore Signs of Trouble
The best way to avoid electrical fires is to recognize signs of trouble and act on them immediately when you notice them. Here are the signs you should watch out for:
- Burn marks or discoloration around a socket, light fixture, or light switch
- An outlet, power cord, or appliance feels hot to the touch
- You smell something burning when an item is plugged in or in use
- There are electrical sparks when you plug in a device
- Your light fixtures are flickering (even after you replaced the bulb)
- Your breakers frequently trip or your fuses blow regularly
These signs may indicate an appliance is overheating or there’s a problem with an electrical socket. If you notice one or multiple of these signs, stop using the outlet or device in question and contact an electrician right away.
We’re Here to Keep You Safe
Let our team of electricians help keep you safe. At Speck Family Electric, we can inspect your electrical system, outlets, fixtures, and more to provide you and your family peace of mind. We’re always here to help our beloved Tennessee homeowners. We service those in Sparta, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Crossville, Gallatin, Lebanon, McMinnville, Mount Juliet, Murfreesboro, and Smithville.