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Electrical Fires

Oct 9 – According to the United State Fire Academy (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) “Electrical fires and electrical failures or malfunctions result in an average of 53,600 home fires each year. These fires cause more than 500 deaths, injure 1,400 people and account for $1.4 billion in property damage.*”

The USFA reports that stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and CD players are the home appliances most often involved in home electrical fires.

According to the NFPA; from 2002 to 2005 lamps, light fixtures, and light  bulbs counted for the largest share of non-confined fires among major types of electrical distribution equipment, while cords and plugs accounted for the largest share of civilian fire deaths.

In addition, the NFPA reported that extension cord fires outnumbered fires beginning with attached or unattached power cords by a ratio of more than 2-1.  Cords and plugs were involved in one-eight (12%) of the 2002 to 2005 home electrical distribution and lighting equipment fires, but roughly two-fifths (39%) of associated civilian deaths.

Electrical Safety Tips from the USFA

The following are some safety precautions to consider to help make your home fire safe:

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old, or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • When buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains, and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three- prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.




NFPA: Electrical Fire Safety Tips

NFPA: Hidden Electrical Hazards

USFA: Residential Clothes Dryer Fires (PDF)

USFA:  Residential Electrical Fires (PDF)

USFA:  Electrical Fire Safety in the Home

USFA:  Electrical Fire Safety for Manufactured Homes

Electrical Safety Foundation International

USFA:  On the Safety Circuit (PDF)




* Source: National Fire Protection Association