Causes of Household Electrical Fires

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Causes of Household Electrical FiresElectrical fires strike fear in the hearts of most homeowners. These fires are dual threats: in addition to the fire hazard, you also risk electric shock or electrocution if you can’t disable the power. At their most insidious, electrical fires rage within the walls of the home, making them difficult, if not altogether impossible, to extinguish. Fortunately, with the proper precautions and common sense, homeowners can avoid these catastrophic events. Learn about the causes of household electrical fires and how to avoid them to enjoy peace of mind.

Faulty Light Fixtures

Old or poorly installed light fixtures can cause shocks or burns, and over time, failing to intervene could lead to an electrical fire. Keep your eyes, ears, and nose peeled for the signs of a problematic light fixture, such as a flickering light, a buzzing sound emanating from the wires, or a persistent burning smell.

Space Heaters

Space heaters can prove useful to basements in the winter, where the temperature is often several degrees lower than it is on the ground floor. They’re a pleasantly modern alternative to wrapping oneself in bear pelts. However, space heaters are temperamental appliances, and users must operate them with the utmost care. Keep the unit away from any fabrics or furniture that it could ignite. Don’t rely on a space heater by running it for sustained periods, causing it to overheat. Most of all, be careful in a basement with insufficient wiring—never use extension cords and power strips instead of a direct wall outlet. On second thought, maybe wrapping yourself in something warm is the better bet.

System Overload

On the topic of power strips, these handy extenders often cause household electrical fires when people push them beyond their capacities. Every power strip will note its wattage capacity. Be aware of this as you load it—if the combined wattage of everything you plug in exceeds this number, you’ll overload the strip. Multiple high-demand electronics on a single strip, such as a gaming PC and a window AC unit on the same line, can prove too much for the power strip to bear. Don’t run more than one 24/7 unit on the same strip. As for “daisy-chaining” your power strips by connecting one strip to another? Don’t even think about it.

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