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How to Prevent Electrical Fires

Experiencing a home fire is a dreadful experience, whether it’s an electrical fire or any other kind. Fires start in many different environments, not just outdoors. 27% of fires occurred in home structures between 2013 and 2017, according to NFPA. While cooking is the leading cause of home fires, electrical fires cause the biggest property damage. We have put together a list of things that teach you how to prevent electrical fires at home. This is also a guide on how to put out an electrical fire and what are some signs of an electrical fire in walls and other places in your home.

How to prevent electrical fires

Update the electrical system in your house

The electrical system is only meant to function in top shape for up to 40 years. However, more than 30 million houses in the US are more than 50 years old. In New York alone, there were 15 deadly electrical fires in 2017. 

Old houses use aluminum or knob-and-tube wiring, which are prone to deterioration and therefore overheat and cause electrical fires. Obsolete systems can cause unintentional electrical current discharge, or arc faults, that are sometimes strong enough to ignite a fire. This mostly happens due to normal decay or because the electrical system cannot accommodate modern appliances.

Therefore, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that electrical systems and especially aluminum wiring systems are replaced with the ones that use modern wiring materials, such as copper. Most electrical fires happen due to poor maintenance or the failure to update current codes, as recommended by the NYC Buildings Department.  

Don’t overburden electrical outlets

Overloading electrical outlets by plugging too many appliances into the same power strip, outlet or extension puts you at great risk of an electrical fire. Extension cords should only be used temporarily. In case you need more power sources in your home, you should call a qualified electrician. 

Nowadays most power strips come with surge protectors. The strip will shut off immediately in case of a power surge and protect your appliances. Without it, the sudden increase of electricity flowing to your outlet can cause your appliances to spark and potentially start a fire. Even with overload protection, it is still advisable that you do not use too many connecting extension cords, as they might cause an electrical fire.

 

Replace damaged plugs and electrical cords

Faulty wiring and damaged power cords lead to issues that can easily become a fire hazard. Most home fires involve arc faults produced by damaged conductors and connectors. This can happen if you have frayed appliance cords, broken wiring, a loose connection in wall outlets or faulty switches.

Be aware of cracked, frayed or loosened power cords before you plug in any appliance. If you notice that your power cord is damaged in any way, get it replaced or repaired before using it again – don’t take any risk it all. Short circuits due to worn or defective insulation caused 14% of the deaths provoked by an electrical malfunction.

Cords can deteriorate when pinched by doors or furniture or through extreme flexing. The wiring inside your walls can get damaged from nails or screws that puncture the insulation when you install shelves for example. Also, make sure that no cords run under the carpet, as the generated heat can produce an arc fault. 

Only use safe appliances and sockets

Updating your electrical system to meet modern standards is very important. Along with that rule, make sure you only buy appliances that follow up-to-date safety regulations as well. Try to buy extension cords and power strips from reputable retailers who offer you a warranty. This applies to any type of electrical product. 

According to NFPA, 1 in 5 electrical failures leading to a home fire has happened in the kitchen. 12% of electrical fires originated in the bedroom and 10% happened in a concealed space such as the attic or roof assembly.

Brett Benner, the president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International talks about the risk of buying low-cost electrical products: “I’ve seen extension cords all over the country that have inferior copper in them-it’s speaker wire, and it literally melts in your hands.”. 

What you can do is contact an electrician who can replace old sockets, check that the appliances are safe to use and set up the electrical connections to make the system more stable.

 

Even when you take the best measures, accidents happen and an electrical fire can still occur. There are obvious clues such as electrical fire smell, but some are more subtle. Such an example could be a change in the color of your electrical wall outlets.

Signs of electrical fire

  • Circuit breakers trip frequently
  • You feel shocks or get a tingling feeling when you touch or plug-in devices
  • The extension cord or power strip sparks when you plug in an appliance
  • Electrical fire smell coming from an appliance, a plug or any wiring
  • The device gets very hot during use
  • The bulb flickers even after you replaced it
  • Burn marks or stains around electrical wall outlets

 In case a fire does break out, it is good to know what type of fire it is. This way you will use the appropriate methods to extinguish it and use the right safety equipment.

fire class

 

Get professional help from a restoration company

 Once the fire is extinguished, the restoration process begins. If the fire damage is serious, you need to contact a professional fire restoration service company to help you clean the soot and get rid of the smoke. The fire restoration company will assess the damage and start the cleaning process to restore your house back to normal. iFlooded Restoration has a vast experience in restoring homes after electrical fires and is ready to bring your property back to normal.  

Does fire insurance cover electrical fire?

Electrical fires cause the biggest financial damage out of all types of fire. Homeowners insurance typically provides substantial cover for the losses and restoration. You might want to consider updating your electrical system for both safety measures and because it can help you save on fire insurance.  

Electrical fire in New York

As a rule, home fires usually occur during the cold season. This is because people spend more time indoors, using electrical heating systems and other appliances.

While fires can start anywhere, there is an increased rate in Brooklyn, Jamaica, Queens,  Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Springfield Gardens, Saint Albans and Hollis. 

The iFlooded Team of licensed technicians is ready to handle any type of fire damage 24/7. We bill your insurance company directly so you can focus on getting your life back to normal while we restore your property.

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