Fire departments across the country respond to almost 48,000 fires caused by electrical failure or malfunction every year. These fires are often caused by simple fixes overlooked by homeowners.
Not all electrical fires can be prevented, of course, but there are a few basic steps homeowners can take to make their homes a little safer.
Step One: No Frayed Wires
Frayed wires happen throughout the home. Small appliances, Christmas lights, and lamps are all prone to broken and frayed wires.
While it’s easy to think a little electrical tape will keep you safe, it’s not a long term solution. You should discard and replace any frayed wires you find as quickly as possible in order to prevent potential electrical fires.
Appliance wire can be found at any hardware store, and replacing a few wires on a small appliance is an easy fix for most people. If you’re not big on DIY, though, replace the appliance rather than risk using frayed wires.
Step Two: Don’t Overload the Circuits
The easiest thing you can do to protect your home is to avoid overloading the circuits.
The circuits in your home are only designed to deliver so much energy. Using too much energy in a given outlet can cause wires to spark or break down.
Avoid power strips whenever possible, limiting plug use to the available two outlets. If you have an older home, consider rewiring your whole home to update your energy supply.
Step Three: Make Sure All Electrical Products Are Safe
This is also an easy fix. All electrical products–batteries, night lights, extension cords, and surge protectors–should have a label from Underwriters Laboratories.
Underwriters Laboratories is the global electrical safety standards organization. If they haven’t approved a product, it may not be safe for use.
Step Four: Replace Any Old Wiring
Finally, you can also protect your family from fires by replacing any old wires in your home.
Electrical wiring is only meant to last 30-40 years. Homes older than that were also not made to handle the amount of electricity we use in the 21st century. Too much stress on the system deteriorates the wires and puts you at risk.
If your home is older than 30 years, you almost certainly need new wiring.