Electrical fires account for a good portion of residential fires, up to 6.3 percent as of 2014, or around 24,000 residential fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Electrical issues, no matter how seemingly minor, are therefore not something to be ignored. Electrical fires can damage or destroy property, and cause serious burns or injuries which may sometimes be quite fatal.
One of the best ways to prevent electrical fires is awareness. What possible causes of electrical fires should we be on the lookout for? Here are a few of the leading causes of electrical fires in residential homes:
- Overloaded electrical outlets
We often don’t think about whether an outlet can handle different electrical equipment. Our main concern is usually the convenience of being able to plug in appliances or electrical equipment in easy-to-reach sockets. When this is not possible, we use extension cords. And because extension cords are equipped with more than one sockets, we also have the option of plugging in more than one appliance to a socket that originally accommodates only one.
This is a dangerous practice, and an overloaded electrical outlet is one of the most common causes of electrical fires.
- Outdated wiring
Electrical wiring needs periodic maintenance and upgrades. Some of the more common issues include faulty wiring, loose, damaged, twisted, or broken wires, or outdated wiring. Homes dating to as far back as twenty years ago may not have the capacity to handle the electrical needs we have today. These days, our homes contain a good number of electrical equipment plugged in and running at the same time: lights, air conditioning, wide-screen TVs, desktop computers, refrigerators and other kitchen appliances, microwaves, and a whole lot more. Old wiring may not be able to handle the increased electrical consumption, causing overheating or sparks, which in turn may cause an electrical fire.