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6 Ways to Prevent an Electrical Fire at Home


By Grant Gegwich


Approximately 80,000 homes were hit by electrical fires in 2014.

There are very few things as terrifying and potentially devastating as a fire in your home. Most people understand that fires can start in the kitchen when you’re cooking. However, there’s also a hidden threat lurking in many homes – electrical fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 80,000 homes were hit by electrical fires in 2014.

But here’s the good news: There are a number of relatively easy things you can do around the house to reduce the risk of a devastating electrical fire.

Check for Electrical Wiring Issues

This likely requires hiring an electrician. If you’re not sure, better to be safe than sorry. And if you have specific issues such as flickering lamps, outlets that spark or breakers that constantly trip, you should make this a high priority. An electrician can identify potential wiring issues and solve the problem before it causes real damage.

Inspect Plugs and Cords

Anything frayed or worn out needs to be replaced. If not, they can cause sparks and start a fire. If an appliance has a frayed cord, you can usually buy a replacement cord; if not, you should replace the entire appliance.

Don’t Overburden Electrical Outlets and Power Strips

We’ve all seen outlets or power strips with a mountain of plugs in adapters on top of other adapters. This is dangerous because it means that too much electricity can surge through those outlets or power strips. If you need more places to plug in devices, it’s best to purchase additional power strips. And while you’re at it, be sure to use surge protectors, which inhibit the amount of electricity that flows into an appliance when there’s a power surge.

Don't Use Electrical Appliances Near Water

Whether it’s the shower, the tub or a sink, keep electrical appliances away from water. If an appliance falls into the tub or a sink when you’re using it, you will likely get a nasty – and potentially deadly – shock.

When You Leave the Room, Turn Off Appliances That Produce Heat

Curling irons, clothes irons and other heat-producing appliances can be dangerous if left unattended—they don’t all turn off automatically. Even if you just intend to “be back in a minute,” we all get distracted sometimes. Leaving an appliance plugged in and turned on can cause overheating and lead to a fire. It’s also important to not leave heat-producing appliances near something that can catch fire – clothing, a towel, etc.

Use the Right Wattage Light Bulbs

Even if you want the room to be brighter, you shouldn’t screw a 100-watt lightbulb into a lamp that calls for a 60-watt bulb. When you exceed the maximum wattage for a lamp or light, you run the risk of overloading the wiring, which can spark and catch fire. If you’re not sure which wattage light bulb to use, look for a maximum wattage label on the inside of your lamp or light fixture.

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