An electrical fire can be obvious, causing major smoke and flame damage in the home, or it can be small and primarily only damage the electrical system itself. In either case, the fire will be costly and it can endanger your family. The following tips can help you avoid an electrical fire.
1. Avoid Overloaded Outlets
Overloaded electrical outlets are outlets that have multiple extenders and power strips plugged into them so that you can plug in more devices. While this may seem convenient, most outlets aren't designed to handle more than two or three devices at one time. The outlets can overheat or short out, which may lead to a fire. Instead of overloading an outlet, have additional outlets installed to properly meet your needs.
2. Install GFCI Outlets
Shorts, shocks, and electrical fires are a greater risk in areas where both water and electricity may interact. This includes kitchens, utility rooms, and the bathroom. Update old outlets to newer GFCI models. These outlets will automatically cut power if moisture is detected. You can also press a button on the outlet to test them to make sure they still work. Once the outlet is dry, there is a reset button that will reactive the outlet.
3. Replace Damaged Cords
Check your appliance and electronic cords for damage regularly. Cords that have been damaged, such as those with bare wires, as well at plugs that are bent, damaged, or melted, can malfunction and lead to a fire. If there is damage replace the appliance or the the cord. Some damage, like a melted, may also indicate problems with the outlet. In this case, the outlet shouldn't be used until an electrician has inspected it.
4. Avoid Unattended Use
Never leave certain appliances running unattended. Space heaters and anything that produces heat or draws a lot of power should only be used when you are home to keep an eye on it. It's also a good idea to unplug small appliances when they aren't in use. This cuts down on the chances of a fire in the event of an electrical surge.
5. Upgrade Your Surge Protection
Installing a whole-house surge protector at the electrical box in your home protects against fire, shock, and electronics damage in your home. A surge can happen for a variety of reasons, including lightening strike, a blown transformer, or issues with the main electrical supply.
Contact a residential electrician for more advice on electrical safety and fire prevention.