Knowing electrical fire warning signs can be the difference between safety and complete devastation. The number of electrical fires increases during the colder months, with many of them starting in a bedroom. Moving into colder weather brings about the time for an electrical home safety inspection to make sure your appliances and wiring are in good condition.
Below are common causes that lead to electrical fires:
- Fires can start through faults in appliance cords, receptacles, and switches. Faults occur when there’s an issue with the electrical circuit, causing electricity to stray from its intended path. Use GFI outlets when appropriate, and never used frayed cords.
- Use light bulbs with appropriate wattages. Lighting fixtures have maximum wattages they can handle. Be sure to look for the wattage and don’t go over it, it should be listed on the fixture. If the wattage exceeds what’s listed it can cause excessive heat and can cause a fire.
- Extension Cords
- The misuse of extension cords is a common hazard. They are only intended for short term and temporary use. They should never be used for appliances, all appliances should be plugged directly into an outlet. If you don’t have the appropriate extensions, give us a call to install a new outlet.
- Space Heaters
- Space heaters are okay to use as long as they are placed away from combustible surfaces such as curtains, beds, clothing, couches, and rugs. Heaters should also be turned off when no one is around, if left on excessive heat can occur and cause a fire.
- Electrical Wiring
- Outdated wiring can cause fires due to lacking the capacity to handle the increased amount of electricity needed for modern appliances. Computers, TV’s, gaming systems, and other appliances require more electricity than older appliances did. Breakers should trip when a circuit is overloaded, but outdated breaker boxes often have worn connections that don’t work, which can cause the system to overload and start a fire. Make sure your home wiring and breaker box are up to date.
These are common warning signs to look for:
- Burning smell – signifies wiring has been damaged
- Warm outlets – outlets should not be warm to the touch. Signifies a circuit overload
- Flickering lights – can be caused by faulty wiring
- Circuit breaker tripping – if it’s a continuous occurrence there may be an electrical issue
- Discolored outlets – indicates charring, and means the wiring is releasing too much heat.
- Sparks – anytime sparks occur there is an issue with the wires or excessive heat
What should you do if an electrical fire occurs?
If an electrical fire does happen, call 911 immediately.
If the fire is too large prioritize your safety and exit the home immediately. If the fire is manageable, disconnect the power and cut off the source of electricity. To extinguish the fire, use a class C or ABC fire extinguisher or cover the fire with baking soda if an extinguisher isn’t available. Baking soda eliminates the oxygen the fire would need to grow. DO NOT USE WATER – water is an excellent conductor and can cause electrical shock if used.
If you want your home inspected for peace of mind, give us a call today! (1-770-978-2300)