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Tips from a Melbourne electrician: how to prevent electrical fires

Sadly, electrical fires remain one of the leading causes of fire in the home. They are unfortunately a recurring trend, with faulty appliances, overloaded circuits, and damaged wiring generating heat that can lead to a fire.

According to the CFA, there are 3000 house fires in Victoria every year, most of which are preventable. The most common place in the home where fires start is the kitchen, usually by unattended cooking. Grease fires in particular can grow very quickly.

Electrician Moorabbin

Electrical fire statistics

According to the ABS, the number of house fires in NSW attributed to an “electrical failure” rose from 158 in 1987 to 261 in 1998 – a 65% jump.

Here in Victoria, the MFB reports that avoidable house fires “are on the rise due to small mistakes” and notes the hairdryer, chargers, and your heater as a few examples.

Our Highett electricians take electrical safety very seriously and encourage everyone to practice safe electricity usage at all times.

The following tips are simple actions that you must incorporate into your daily routine to prevent fires caused by electrical hazards. In this way, we can transform our home into the safe place that it should always be.

Never DIY; always call a qualified electrician

Number one on the list is to always hire a certified and trusted electrician in Melbourne to do the wiring, equipment installations, and electrical fixes in your house.

Rest assured that the highest quality of materials, as well as the highest standard of workmanship, will be used when you engage the pros.

Check your wires

Worn, abused, or damaged cords and wiring must be replaced ASAP.

Regularly check the condition of the cables and be wary of any damage. Even something as seemingly harmless as a fraying laptop charger laying on a couch cushion can lead to fire.

 

Laptop charger

Inspect sockets

Periodically check wall outlets and sockets to ensure they are not loose: check for loose wires and installations.

Pay attention to sizzles and sparks, and do NOT use a socket if you suspect it may be damaged.

Call a qualified emergency electrician to repair or replace.

Tempted to DIY? Put down the duct tape

Never attempt to repair cables with insulation or duct tape.

This tape is only temporary and tends to detach and leave the cables exposed again, putting at risk anyone who touches them without realising the damage.

Leaving the house? Check your electrical appliances

When leaving the house, perform a quick check of all those appliances you frequently use.

You absent-mindedly unplug the hairdryer or iron all the time, so try to make a conscious effort to remember when you switch off and unplug these sorts of appliances.

  • Only use your microwave every other day? Consider switching it off at the power point
  • Switch your television and DVD player off at the power socket before you leave for work in the morning
  • Always switch off and unplug your phone and laptop chargers when not in use

 

Melbourne electrician Did you switch off the iron?

The risk of Christmas decorations

The best time of the year is also one of the most dangerous, as Christmas lights are a common cause of electrical fires.

This time of year, electricity is working its hardest, sending power through more extension cords and to more bulbs than at any other time of the year.

At Christmas:

  • Extension cords are powering up lights both inside and outside
  • Lights are being strung through trees and on leaves
  • We’re using lights that are usually sitting upstairs for the other 11 months of the year – check bulbs and do NOT use faulty lights

Old or faulty wiring

Electrical inspections are particularly pertinent in older homes, as wiring commonly used throughout the 60s is no longer used today. Electrical wiring from 40+ years ago was mainly covered in rubber, which, as you might expect, deteriorates over time, leaving wires exposed and as such increasing the risk of electrical fire.

If you live in a home that was built before the 60s, you may be advised to invest in a complete re-wiring.

Enhance your home’s safety by installing reliable smoke alarms. These devices are crucial in detecting smoke early on, giving you valuable time to evacuate and alerting emergency services.

Are there warning signs before an electrical fire?

Electrical fires are a serious concern in any home or building. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of an electrical fire, there are some warning signs that can help you identify a potential problem before it becomes dangerous.

Flickering lights

One of the most common warning signs is flickering lights. This can be caused by a loose connection in the wiring, which creates sparks that can ignite materials like wood or insulation.

Sockets that are warm to the touch

Another warning sign is plugs that feel hot to the touch. This is usually caused by an overloaded circuit, and it can be a danger both because of the risk of fire and because of the potential for electrical shock.

Buzzing or humming sounds

If you hear a buzzing sound coming from your outlets or light fixtures, it could be a sign of loose wire connections. These buzzes are caused by electrical currents arcing through the air, and they can create sparks that start fires.

Discoloured outlets

Outlets and switches should be clean and free of dirt and grime. If you notice that your outlets are starting to discolour, it could be due to overheating. This is another sign that it’s time to call in an electrician.

Hot spots on walls or ceilings

If you notice hot spots on your walls or ceiling, it’s a sign that your electrical system is overloaded. This problem should be addressed as soon as possible by an emergency electrician.

Burning smells

A burning smell coming from an outlet or switch is a clear sign of an electrical fire risk. Do not try to investigate the source of the smell yourself; instead, evacuate the building immediately and call the fire department.

If you notice either of these warning signs, it is important to have an electrician check your wiring as soon as possible to prevent a fire from happening. By being aware of some of the most common warning signs, you can help to reduce the risk of an electrical fire starting in your home.

How can electrical fires be prevented in the workplace?

Electrical fires are a leading cause of workplace fires and injuries.

They can be caused by faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or improper use of electrical equipment. Fortunately, there are steps that businesses can take to prevent electrical fires. 

First, it is important to have a qualified electrician inspect the electrical system on a regular basis. This will help to identify any potential problems before they become serious.

Second, all electrical equipment should be properly maintained and tested regularly, and results logged.

Third, employees should be trained in proper electrical safety procedures.

And finally, it is important to keep work areas well-ventilated and free of clutter.

By taking these precautions, businesses can greatly reduce the risk of an electrical fire.

Another factor to consider is regularly testing and maintaining your smoke alarms in your commercial property to ensure they function optimally and provide protection.

Reduce the risk of electrical fires at home with Briggs Electrical

If you need a qualified electrician to install your electrics or perform any repairs or checks, you can’t go past the Briggs Electrical team.

Our 24 hour electricians in Highett work throughout Melbourne, offering clients the best service in order to restore the utmost safety to homes, offices, and other commercial spaces. 

Put your family’s safety first: arrange an inspection today. Give us a call anytime on 1300 300 222 or reach out to us online.