There are about 24,000 electrical fires per year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Although most electrical fires start in the bedroom, the most fatal fires start in the living room, family room, and den.
Check the following areas of your home to ensure your home’s electrical safety is up to par.
1. Electrical outlets: Faulty electrical outlets are a leading cause of home fires. As outlets age, so do the wires behind them that you can’t see. Any loose, damaged or warm-to-the-touch outlets should be repaired or replaced.
2. Electrical wiring: Outdated wiring is another common cause of electrical fires. Frequently tripped breakers, flickering lights, and burning smells are clear warning signs. If your home is more than 20 years old, it may not be able to handle today’s increased power load. If you suspect your home’s wiring is outdated, leave this one to the pros and contact a qualified electrician.
3. Overloaded cords and outlets: Extension cords are not permanent solutions. If your big-screen TV, home theater system and other electronics are plugged into extension cords, it’s time to call an electrician and install additional outlets.
4. Old appliances: Older appliances are more likely to have loose or damaged wiring, which means they’re more likely to catch fire. Check older appliances for damage and determine if it’s time to upgrade or replace. Also, check to ensure you’re using appliance-grade outlets. A qualified electrician can help with installation.
5. Light fixtures: Light fixtures, lamps, and lightbulbs are other common culprits behind electrical fires. Installing a bulb with a wattage too high for a lamp or light fixture is a leading cause of electrical fires. Always check the maximum recommended bulb wattage on any lighting fixture or lamp and never go over the recommendation. Keep flammable materials like cloth and paper away from light fixtures. The material can heat up and ignite, causing a fire. Faulty lamps and light fixtures also can cause fires.