SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides fire and smoke damage cleanup and restoration for homes and businesses in Palo Alto, CA, and surrounding areas. The team is also committed to helping property owners prevent fire damage, which can be devastating and expensive.
Knowledge about the common causes of electrical fires enables residents and businesses to avoid or correct situations that increase the risk of an electrical fire.
Common Sources of Electrical Fires
#1. Faulty outlets and appliances
Faulty electrical outlets and aging, outdated home appliances stand out as the leading cause of electrical fires in the home. Defective or malfunctioning switches, receptacles, and appliance cords create conditions that elevate the risk of a fire. Avoid using an appliance if it has a worn, frayed, or crimped cord. The frayed or worn cord can become hot and ignite nearby combustible materials and surfaces such as rugs, curtains, and floors.
Appliance cords generally are not manufactured to specifications that can hold up under heavy foot traffic. Avoid exposing cords to conditions that could cause damage. Do not run cords under rugs since the rugs do not provide adequate protection for the cord, and if the cord is damaged, the rug becomes a fuel source for a fire. The rug also conceals any fraying or damage the cord might have sustained.
The grounding plug prevents an appliance from being plugged into a receptacle that cannot handle the extra electricity the appliance needs to function properly. Removing the grounding prong to enable the cord to be plugged into a two-pronged electrical outlet creates a serious fire risk. This practice can lead to a circuit being overloaded, which can result in an electrical fire.
#2. Light fixtures
Light fixtures, lamps, and light bulbs are all common electrical fire hazards. Lamps and light fixtures are designed to handle bulbs within a certain range of wattage. The higher the wattage, the higher the electrical draw. The higher wattage also generates an intense heat that may damage the lamp or fixture, resulting in an electrical fire. An incandescent light bulb converts only 10% of the electricity to light. The rest is lost in heat. The filament in an incandescent bulb is 4600 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface temperature of the bulb may vary from 150 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid exceeding the recommended bulb wattage on any lamp or light fixture. LED bulbs are becoming the standard in homes and businesses. LEDs convert 80% of electricity to light and generate much less heat, reducing the risk of a fire. An LED light will last up to 25,000 hours, 25 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb.
#3. Extension cords
Extension cords have many practical uses and make life around the home or office much easier, especially as more people choose to work and study from home. However, the misuse of extension cords is another leading cause of electrical fires. If an appliance must be plugged into an extension cord, it should only be on a temporary basis. Appliances should be plugged into outlets. If existing outlets cannot handle the appliance load, hire an electrician to install outlets that are designed to carry the load demand required by the appliance.
#4. Space heaters
Space heaters are small, affordable, efficient, and portable. However, because space heaters are so portable, people sometimes put the handy devices too close to combustible items such as clothing, beds, curtains, rugs, couches, and chairs resulting in a fire. One of the most dangerous culprits causing an electrical fire is the coil space heater. The coils can reach temperatures from 800 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to very quickly ignite any combustible material that is in close proximity to the device. Flammable items will ignite almost instantly upon coming in direct contact with the coils. Quartz infrared heaters can reach similar temperatures and present a comparable risk hazard, especially if the elements are covered with a thick layer of dust.
A safer alternative to a coil heater is the radiator-style heater. It diffuses heat over the entire surface of the unit, making the appliance less of a fire risk hazard. Combustible materials should still be kept away from a radiator heater. It is unsafe to hang clothes over a radiator heater to quickly dry the garment.
#5. Aging, outdated wiring
Another leading cause of electrical fires is aging, outdated wiring that is degraded or unable to handle modern electrical loads required by newer, more powerful appliances such as wide-screen TVs, computers, air conditioners, and microwaves.
Breakers are designed to interrupt a circuit when overloaded by too much electricity. Outdated breakers may fail to break the connection when overloaded, causing the system to overload and cause an electrical fire.
From faulty outlets to outdated breakers, homeowners, property managers, and businesses need to be aware of the common causes of electrical fires and the safety measures that can prevent this type of fire.
SERVPRO of Palo Alto responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to fire damage and other property damage disasters in the Palo Alto area. The team implements a response quickly, carries out a thorough fire damage cleanup process, and rapidly restores the damaged structure to its pre-disaster condition.
For more details about fire damage restoration and cleanup services, email the SERVPRO of Palo Alto office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The team can also be reached by calling (650) 800-3448.