Electrician Talk

How to Prevent Electrical Fires

Check These 7 Things Right Now to Prevent Electrical Fires at Your Home

Perhaps the most tragic thing about the 25,000+ home electrical fires in homes across the U.S. each year is that the vast majority of them could have been prevented if the right safety precautions had been taken. In most cases, these are very simple tips you can do right now. Just taking care to use your electrical devices, outlets, etc. correctly can drastically reduce your family’s chances of electrical fire tragedy, so please read these tips and go through your house and make sure everyone is following them today. And if you have any questions, contact our Northern Virginia electrician now at (703) 494-3989.

1. Don’t Overload Your Outlets

In other words, you don’t want extension cords to be a permanent solution to any situation in your home. Each outlet’s circuits were designed to convey a certain amount of electricity and overloading with extension cords and too many power strips does exactly that. This is one of the most common reasons for electrical fires, and it’s entirely preventable. Make sure your surge protectors have an internal circuit breaker that will cut power if it senses problems. If your family simply has too many gadgets that need plugging in at once, it’s probably time to install new outlets and wiring.  

2. Use Only GFCI Outlets Near Water

Kitchens, bathrooms, workshops with sinks and any outdoor outlet should be a “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter” outlet. You’ve seen them—the sturdy looking outlets with three-pronged plug stations that have two buttons in between marked “Test” and “Reset”. These outlets are especially designed to cut the power supply if they sense moisture. If your kitchen, bathroom or any other room where water flows has an older style outlet without those buttons, contact Root Electric right away to have them replaced.

3. Keep Flammable Objects Away from Electrical Outlets and Cords

Avoid placing furniture, curtains, decorations, boxes or any other flammable item in front of (or too close to) an outlet. Most outlets generate an unnoticeable of heat, but if they’re overloaded (see step 1) or faulty in some other way, they could generate a lot more heat, cause sparks and then start a fire on whatever is closest to them. Don’t take that chance! In fact, regularly feel your outlets to see if they’re noticeably warm (they shouldn’t be). If they are, electrical repairs are in order.

Customer Testimonial

Very professional from the first contact by Bill Root through the free estimate and completion of the job. They kept the work area (my kitchen) very clean and made very few holes in the ceiling. My workmen included an apprentice. I think it is great that a company is assisting a young person to become a Master Electrician. I highly recommend Root Electric.

Chris R.

4. Unplug Small Devices and Appliances When Not in Use

According to some studies, the average family has at least 50 electrical devices or appliances plugged in at any one time. Of course, very few people unplug their entertainment systems when they leave the house, nor does it make sense to ever unplug the refrigerator. However, we do urge you to unplug things like the toaster and other small kitchen appliances before you leave each day. And never leave a space heater plugged in when you’re not there! Those are notorious for electrical fires! Same goes for electric, heated blankets. Try to get into the unplugging habit now, because those kitchen appliances cause a lot of fires when left plugged in and unattended. Unplug small appliances you use in the bathroom too. Also, you can actually save money on electricity by fully unplugging computers, printers and entertainment systems from the wall when you’re not at home because even in the “off” position, those things till suck power from the system and add up on your electrical bill.

5. Retire Older Appliances

We know, you like to squeeze every last moment of use out of any appliance you have, because they can be expensive! But these older, malfunctioning appliances can be some of the worst electrical-fire starters! So, if any of your appliances show the following signs of wear, dispose of them safely and get a newer, safer model ASAP:

Frayed electrical cords

Using it causes lights to flicker in the room, or to turn them off (we’re looking at you, old microwaves…)

Sparks when turning on

Excessive heat coming from the device

These are signs of an electrical fire disaster just waiting to happen, so don’t ignore them!

6. Limit the Use of Space Heaters

One of the leading causes of electrical fires is prolonged use of electric space heaters. We recommend that people limit the use of space heaters by only using them when the room is occupied. We also recommend running them at 1/2 power instead of full power. A space heater at 1/2 power will keep a room just as warm as full power, but without the risk of damage to the outlets or overloading the circuit.

7. Schedule a Regular Electrical Safety Inspection

In addition to these 5 things that you can go around your house and do right now (make it a family activity so everyone knows these safety tips), schedule a regular electrical safety and electrical building code inspection with your Northern Virginia electricians. If you have any concerns or questions, we can help you decide how to solve problems listed above, and we can also check your electrical panel, wiring and other areas that would not be safe for you to check on your own. Electrical safety inspections provide great peace of mind for you and your family, and add a little extra incentive to buyers if you’re trying to sell your home as well.

The Root Electric Team is obsessive about safety for our clients! If you have any concerns about the electricity in your home, please contact us immediately and we can help you! (703) 494-3989.


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