Three Common Causes of Electrical Fires
January 05, 2017
Electrical fires cause hundreds of fatalities, thousands of injuries, and billions of dollars in damage. A report by the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Analysis and Research Division highlights the common causes of electrical fires as well as the significant damage they cause. The association also offers safety tips for consumers. The 2013 report by the association reviewed data from 2011 from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System. It defines an electrical fire as one involving any equipment powered by electricity experiencing a failure or malfunction.
In 2011, approximately 47,700 home fires involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to the ignition. These electrical fires resulted in 418 civilian deaths, 1,570 civilian injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage. From 2007 to 2011, home electrical fires represented 13% of total home fires and caused 18% of deaths. The three common causes of electrical fires, according to findings in the National Fire Protection Association’s report, were electrical distribution or lighting equipment, fans and washer or dryer.
Electrical distribution or lighting equipment accounted for the largest share (48%) of home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. That compares with fans and washer or dryer, which each accounted for 6% of home electrical fires.
Wiring and related equipment accounted for the largest share (63%) of home electrical fires involving electrical distribution or lighting. Lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs accounted for 20%, cords and plugs were 11% and transformers and power supplies accounted for 6%. Interestingly, cords and plugs accounted for the larger share of civilian deaths (30%) and injuries (21%).
The majority of home fires involving electrical distribution or lighting began with the ignition of products and materials often found in structural areas, including wire or cable insulation (32%), structural member or framing (16%), insulation within the structural area (6%) and exterior-wall covering (5%).
Nearly half of deaths in home fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment resulted from fires that began in a living room, family room, den or bedroom. The National Fire Protection Association says you should call an electrician if you experience the following problems in your home:
- Fuses and circuit breakers blow repeatedly.
- You feel a tingling sensation when you touch an appliance.
- The wall outlets are discolored.
- An appliance emits a rubbery odor or burning smell.
- Lights are flickering.
- Sparks come from an outlet.
- Outlets are cracked or broken.
There are also things consumers can do to protect themselves from the common causes of electrical fires. Among them:
- Replace fuses with the proper rating for the circuit they protect and never replace a fuse with a higher-rated one.
- Only plug one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker or toaster) into one outlet at a time.
- Never plug a major appliance into an extension cord.
- Pinching power cords against walls or furniture or running them under carpets or across doorways can cause a fire.
- Arc fault circuit interrupters are a type of circuit breaker that shuts off electricity when a dangerous arcing condition occurs. Consider hiring an electrician to install them in your home.
- Some power lines are underground. Call your local utility before digging.
It’s extremely important to ensure your home or business is properly up to code to prevent any future complications or electrical fires. Make sure to hire a licensed electrician in your area for preventative electrical maintenance or even a one-time electrical inspection to make sure your electrical is 100%.
For all your Southwest Florida, electrical needs, contact Empowered Global.