According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fire departments across the nation responded to more than 480,500 home-structure fires in 2009.  One of the main causes of residential fires was electrical distribution or lighting equipment.

Of the home electrical fires during that period, 41 percent involved such equipment.  Some culprits of those fires were:

  • Wiring and related equipment
  • Lamps, light fixtures and lightbulbs
  • Cords and plugs
  • Transformers and AC adapters

Other potential electrical fire hazards include kitchen ranges, washers or dryers, fans and space heaters.  Fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment caused about $709 million in direct damages according to the NFPA statistics.

72 percent of electrical-distribution or lighting-equipment fires happened because of electrical failure or malfunction.  While electrical failure or malfunction can cause home-structure fires, there are some preventive measures you can take to limit your risk.  Take the following measures to avoid electrical shock and fire dangers:

  • Swap out or fix damaged or loose cords
  • Don’t run electrical cords across doorways or beneath rugs.
  • Make sure your home has tamper-resistant outlets, especially in households with children
  • Think about having additional outlets installed by a technician to eliminate the need for extension cords
  • Don’t overload outlets, and limit one high-wattage appliance to each
  • If you have problems with circuits tripping, fuses blowing or lights flickering or dimming, call an electrician.  Warm switches or electrical outlets can also be a sign of potential problems.
  • Keep lamps on flat surfaces and away from flammable materials.  Only use bulbs that match a lamp’s recommended wattage.
  • Get ground-fault circuit interrupters in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basement to prevent electrical shock caused by ground faults.

Have an emergency preparedness plan and don’t forget to implement fire safety equipment in your home like, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and home sprinkler systems.  Visit the National Fire Protection Association for more information on ways to stay safe and be prepared in the event of a home fire.