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Preventing electrical fires has become one of the top priorities for many homeowners since they are one of the most significant contributors to property damage, with an average of $1.5 billion in losses recorded annually. Electrical fires also represent a massive risk for everyone, causing many injuries in people’s homes and accidental deaths after they get out of control.

This is why you should fully understand how to prevent them before they happen and minimize the chance they can occur, especially when your kids and family are living inside your residence.

1. Avoid Overloading Outlets

Overloading the outlets of your property can easily lead to an accidental fire once you plug in multiple devices simultaneously without taking into account the maximum charge they can withstand. Once this happens, the fuse or circuit breaker will trip, causing the wiring to overheat and eventually melt everything around it until it starts a small fire that burns whatever is nearby.

To avoid this problem, plug in one device per outlet to reduce the chances of creating electrical fires. You can also understand the specific amperage of each outlet before you plug in multiple devices to ensure you don’t overload them by accident.

If you want a better solution for this problem, you can hire a professional to help you upgrade your property’s electrical system and add more outlets so you can plug in more devices safely.

2. Unplug Devices When Not Using

Unplugging devices you aren’t using can help you avoid electrical fires since some of them could explode or catch on fire once connected to an outlet for many hours after they are fully charged. Because many of these devices don’t have protection against power outages, they could also cause fires if you leave them plug-in all the time while you are at work or hanging out with your friends.

Here are just some devices that could cause an electrical fire after leaving them plug-in into an outlet for a long time:

  • Smartphones and tablets
  • Game consoles (PS5, Switch, etc.)
  • Hair straighteners
  • E-cigarettes

The only exceptions for devices you can leave plug-in for many weeks or months without risk are home appliances like your freezer, stove, or washing machine.

3. Don’t Use Damaged Cords or Plugs

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, damaged cords and plugs are a significant fire hazard, especially when split and taped together after using them for many years. They could easily produce electrical fires at any moment since most of them show signs of failure after using them for a short period and could create a short circuit by accident.

To solve this problem, you must immediately replace your damaged cords or plugs with new ones capable of handling your device’s electrical charge. You should also never try to fix the plugs or cords which are already damaged. They will only become a liability that will put you and everyone else at risk.

4. Keep Flammable Materials Away From Electricity

Flammable materials are a big reason why electrical fires grow out of control and become almost impossible to contain, even with the help of your local fire department. Once these flammable materials contact any outlet or faulty electronic device, they can instantly produce a big fire that could spread quickly and destroy everything in its path.

This is why you should always place these flammable materials in a safe place as far away from anything that uses electricity, including phone chargers, computers, wires, circuit breakers, etc.

5. Replace Older Appliances

Older appliances are another risk factor regarding electrical fires since they usually have wiring problems after being used for many years and are more likely to suffer electrical malfunctions that could potentially start a fire. Their performance and wattage usage also worsens over time, making them more susceptible to power outages, increasing the risk level when using them in your home.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, old appliances represent 13% of residential and 19% of non-residential fires that happen every year. Because of this reason, you must replace these old appliances as soon as you can before they cause an accident on your property and create electrical fires in the future.

6. Use GFCI Outlets

GFCI outlets, unlike standard outlets, provide a higher level of protection against electrical fires since companies specially design them to prevent any accident caused by a circuit overload or a spike in electricity. Once these GFCI outlets identify any imbalance in the electrical current from the circuit, it will automatically cut the power before it can cause any damage.

This will protect all the devices plug-in into the outlet and make it almost impossible for an electrical fire to occur on your property. They are so effective even the National Electrical Code decided to include them as a requirement for all the outdoor areas, basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and garages of each residence. This is why many homeowners decide to use them in their properties and replace all of the previous outlets that are more vulnerable to electrical fires.

7. Don’t Ignore Sparks or Flickering

Sparks or flickering actions are considered a big indicator that shows you when one of the wires or electronic devices inside your property is becoming faulty and could potentially create an electrical fire if you don’t do something about it. These signs can also be found in the outlets, light switches, extension cords, or plugs around your home.

Once you have identified any flickering or sparks, stop using that device or component immediately and call an electrician immediately before the situation worsens. They will tell you how bad the problem is, what are the best solutions available for your budget and help you fix all of these issues ASAP.

8. Avoid Electric Space Heaters

You should also avoid electric space heaters at all costs since they are one of the leading causes of fires in the country, producing around 1,700 incidents yearly. These space heaters can easily catch on fire once you leave them running for many hours in a row until they overheat and start to melt from the inside out. Once this happens, they will ignite nearby objects and start spreading the fire in your home without any notice.

However, if you want to keep using these space heaters and reduce the risk of an electrical fire, you should follow these simple steps.

  • Avoid using extensions or power cords with your space heater
  • Never use a space heater for long periods
  • Place the space heater in a safe spot away from flammable materials
  • Only use space heaters tested by NRTL
  • Perform regular maintenance on your space heater
  • Replace your space heater if damaged

Bonus Tip: Only Trust Professionals With Home Improvement Projects

You should never attempt home electrical repairs or other home improvement projects that involve interacting with your home’s wiring unless you have the training and expertise to handle it. Luckily, Valley Restoration and Construction offers many services that can help you with home repairs and restoration efforts, and we’d be more than happy to help you with your next project.

If you want to get an estimate or begin a new home improvement project, give us a call.