News reports this summer share the stories of electrical fires and disasters throughout Dallas. The city faced damaged buildings, injuries and deaths from fires which started in a range of properties from homes and small businesses, to an airport which all appeared to be related to electrical hazards.
Perhaps the most memorable of the incidences was a fire generated from an electrical short near family-owned business, Luna Tortilla Factory. According to witnesses, the once local favorite restaurant which had been serving customers since 1924 was quickly enveloped with flames and destroyed. Although the building had been left in complete ruin, owner Fernando Luna stated “It’s something that’s part of us.”
Unfortunately, electrical fires can devastate virtually any property with electrical complications. Data indicates that electrical fires rank as the fourth leading source of home fires, affecting nearly 50, 900 residences each year. Unfortunately, electrical fires are commonly caused by seemingly minor, unsuspecting electrical problems that most homeowners are unaware of. Could your home be a danger zone for your personal belongings and loved ones?
What Causes An Electrical Fire?
Damaged electrical wiring or poor quality electrical systems may not seem very threatening; however, electrical issues similar to these can lead to fires, causing injuries, property damage, and deaths. Some of the most common causes of electrical fires include:
- defective electrical outlets or wires that are frayed, worn, have faults in them, or are damaged
- outdated electrical systems, appliances, wiring, or outlets which may be worn down, damaged, or incapable of supporting the higher amounts of energy required by most electrical items and appliances today
- incorrect installation of lighting, fixtures, and bulbs
- hazardous placement of electrical equipment such as running cords beneath rugs, placing space heaters, lights, or lamps near flammable items (such as curtains, fabrics, beds, or furniture)
- improper use of extension-cords– professionals recommend utilizing extension-cords for short-term purposes only as a last resort for sourcing an electrical item.
How to Prevent Electrical Fires
A majority of electrical fires may be prevented by having your home inspected frequently. Experts recommend having an inspection at least once every 5 years if you are renting a property, every 10 years for homeowners, and 1 year for homes with a swimming pool. This will ensure that your home’s electrical system has upheld its’ integrity and complies with electrical standards. After the inspection, any electrical issues that have been discovered should be addressed as soon as possible. Many electrical complications may require professional assistance in order to be completed safely.
Other prevention methods and safeguards involve:
- Smoke alarms: Install a smoke alarm and routinely check the system to make certain that it functions properly.
- Proper placement of appliance: As a rule of thumb, appliances for heating or lighting should be kept no closer than three feet from combustible household items.
- Avoid overloading circuits: Be aware of the amount of electricity that each appliance or electrical item uses to prevent circuit overloads.
- Smart use of electrical products: Turn off any items that you are not using. Remove any plugs from outlets from electrical products that seem to be malfunctioning, sparking, or producing strange odors and noises
Be sure to read all instructions and labels on electrical products before using or installing them. Ask a professional for assistance if you have any concerns or questions regarding electrical safety.
To hear more about the Luna family’s story read local investigator reports about the electrical fire.