James and Patty just moved into their new home. While it’s new to them, it’s an older home with a limited supply of electrical outlets.
James wants to plug several electronics into an outlet in the house’s living room. He figures, “What’s the big deal? I’ll just plug everything in through one outlet. It’ll be fine.” The problem is, James may be overloading that outlet and setting the stage for an electrical fire.
The electrical system of many older homes is not properly equipped to respond to today’s increased power demands. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than half of all homes in the U.S. are at least 30 years old. The wiring in many of these older homes was designed to handle around half of the electrical demands of today’s families with the ever-increasing use of gadgets, gizmos and appliances demanding power.
According to the NFPA and the Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical fires are one of the leading causes of structure fire annually. Officials with the NFPA said in 2010, electrical fires accounted for nearly 13 percent of reported home fires. Those fires resulted in 420 fatalities, 1,520 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage.
So, how can James, and you, prevent the dangers that can occur by overloading an outlet? Here are some tips:
You’ll also want to watch for these warning signs of electrical system overload. If you have any of these present, you should have your home inspected by a professional:
If an electrical fire does occur, take these steps:
Don’t make the same mistake James made. Never overload your home’s electrical outlets or circuits. It could prevent a fire and save lives!
Sources: National Fire Protection Association, Electrical Safety Foundation International, Safe Electricity, National Ag Safety Database
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.