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Prevent electrical fires

This article was published in October 2020 and may be outdated.

We plug it in and then usually forget about it. Whether it’s a tool, appliance or computer, safe use of any type of electrical equipment can prevent an electrical fire. Always be sure you and your family practice the safe use of electricity to prevent an electrical fire in your home, work area, farm or cottage.

  • Don’t overload outlets with too many plugs. Overloaded circuits can cause a fire.
  • Ensure all cords are in good working condition. A frayed or damaged cord could be hazardous and should be replaced.
  • Make sure the cord is adequate for the job. Match the wattage or amperage on the appliance with that on the cord before using.
  • Don’t run cords under carpets or other obstructions. This may damage or overheat them. Overheated cords cause insulation to melt or burn. Frayed or damaged cords are also dangerous for this reason.
  • Keep smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in good working condition and locate them strategically in your home.

Despite the best precautions, fires can occur. Follow these guidelines in case of a fire:

  • Call 911 immediately. If the fire is small, use a fire extinguisher to douse the flames. Otherwise, get everyone out of the house at once, and wait for the fire department.
  • Electrical fires are different from other fires. They have a source of electricity still conducting current. It’s important to remember to use a chemical fire extinguisher – using water to extinguish an electrical fire can result in serious electrical shock.

Learn more about electrical safety.