Nothing is more important than your family's safety. That's why you need to make every effort to identify and eliminate fire risks in and around your home, particularly in your electrical work. Faulty wiring, delayed maintenance or carelessness can lead to a disaster that can cost you your home and endanger your life. Read on to learn more about the most common causes of electrical fires and how you can prevent them.

Power in Percentages

Electrical failures contributed to about 47,700 home structural fires in 2011, according to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Those fires resulted in 418 deaths and $1.4 billion in damage. Clearly, the stakes are high in making sure that the electrical work is safely installed in your home.

According to the NFPA's report, 48 percent of home fires caused by electrical failure were started by the electrical distribution and/or lighting systems. Of that 48 percent, 63 percent were started by wiring, 20 percent by lighting, 11 percent by cords and plugs, and 6 percent by transformers and power supplies.

Fans caused an additional 6 percent of electrical fires, washers and dryers another 6 percent, space heaters 4 percent, air conditioning 4 percent, water heaters 3 percent and stovetop ranges 3 percent.

Don't Become a Statistic

The good news is that electrical fires have declined steadily since the 1980s. Modern technologies and building techniques have lowered the risk of fire and kept everyone safer. However, there's no reason to be complacent when it comes to safety. To decrease your risk of falling victim to a fire caused by your electrical system, follow these tips:

  • Be sure that only qualified electricians perform electrical work on your home and that they comply with all local building code ordinances and safety standards.
  • If you have outdated electrical work like knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring, you should seriously consider having it replaced.
  • Inspect all cords and plugs and dispose of any that show signs of wear, cracking or fraying.
  • Make sure you aren't overloading any of your outlets or power strips with too many appliances.
  • Avoid extension cords for more than a temporary solution.
  • Keep flammable material far away from any electric heat sources such as halogen or incandescent light bulbs, stovetops, coffee makers and heating equipment.
  • If one of your fuses or circuits is getting tripped repeatedly, have it inspected and check out the appliances in the room in question before you flip it back on.

Keeping Your Family Secure

Stay vigilant about maintaining your electrical equipment and follow all safety recommendations to reduce your risk to a minimum. If you are concerned that your home is at risk of fire, have a qualified electrician inspect your electrical work and point out any danger areas without delay.

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