Electrical Fire Safety 2016

February 25, 2016 01:48 PM
The Galesburg Fire Department wants to help prevent home electrical fires. Electric currents carried by wiring, switches, plugs and appliances generate heat. Excessive or uncontrolled heat can start fires. Electrical failure or malfunctions cause an average of almost 50,000 home fires per year, resulting in roughly 450 deaths and $1.5 billion in direct property damage according to the National Fire Protection Association. 


The threat is particularly great in homes built prior to the 1950s when the electrical wiring didn't always meet today's safety standards. The wiring systems in older homes may not be keeping up with the ever-increasing demands placed on them. Fire Captain Derek Perry states: "We have seen fires started from multi-plug extension cords running beneath rugs and also from overloaded extension cords and adapters. We hope to prevent any more of these by reminding people the things we use on a daily basis can be dangerous if misused."   


You need to understand - and respect - the power of electricity and the role it can play in home fires. The chief culprits in most electrical fires are:

  • Incorrectly installed wiring.
  • Overloaded circuits and extension cords.
  • Improper plugs, switches and outlets.
  • Misuse and poor maintenance of lighting.


Electrical Warning Signs

The following warning signs may indicate electrical fire safety problems that could cause a house fire. If you experience any of these warning signs in your home, contact a licensed electrician to repair the problem:

  • Flickering or dimming lights.
  • Switches or outlets that are hot to the touch or emit an acrid odor.
  • Discolored cords, outlets and switch plates.
  • Repeated blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.

Keep Home Wiring Systems Safe

Hire a licensed electrician to:

  • Inspect a home and make any needed repairs before you purchase it.
  • Ensure that any electrical modifications meet existing codes.
  • Inspect and repair outlets and switches.
  • Inspect aluminum wiring in homes built from 1965 to 1973 because there have been problems with this wiring used in wall sockets, switches and cable connections.

Fuse and Circuit Breaker Safety

  • Be sure to replace fuses or circuit breakers with ones of the correct size.
  • Have a qualified, licensed electrician repair any problems.

Cords, Outlets and Plug Safety

Have fire sense by taking these precautions when using plugs and electrical cords:

  • Don't run cords under carpeting, bedding or other combustible materials, or across doorways or frequently traveled areas.
  • Discard frayed or broken cords and never splice two cords together.
  • Don't overload outlets or use extension cords in place of outlets because these unsafe methods create too much heat and can easily cause fires. Call an electrician to install additional outlets as necessary.
  • Be sure plugs fit snugly in outlets to prevent shock and excess heat.

Lighting Safety

Combustible materials can ignite easily when they are exposed to hot bulbs. Keep the following tips in mind when using light fixtures:

  • Purchase lamps and fixtures listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent, not-for-profit safety testing and certification organization.
  • Use the right bulb wattage for all lamps and fixtures.
  • Position lamps away from open windows where strong breezes can blow draperies onto hot light bulbs.

For more information, please contact the Fire Marshal.

Contact: Fire Marshal Randy Hovind

Phone: 309/345-3757

Email: fireinsp@ci.galesburg.il.us



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