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5 common causes of electrical fires

Scope Fire and Security Services

Electrical fires are extremely common in both homes and businesses. In fact, only recently, a well-known hotel suffered a serious fire that was said to have been caused by a fault in their electrics.

With electricity so widely used in every day life, it’s important to understand how electrical fires start and how to prevent them. Let’s take a look at the 5 main causes:

Faulty appliances and outlets

Use of outdated appliances is one of the most common causes of electrical fires. If you suspect your tumble dryer is at death’s door, don’t wait until it passes, invest in a new one straight away. One thing to look out for (and avoid like the plague) is frayed cords, which can send heat onto combustible surfaces and cause a fire.

Faulty plug sockets can also be dangerous. If you notice any cracks or burn marks, get them checked out and replaced as soon as you can.

Extension cords

Many people use extension cords, but very few know that they are one of the main causes of electrical fires. When multiple appliances are plugged into the same outlet, it can become overloaded and catch fire, especially if there are flammable items nearby.

To minimise the risk, keep extension cords away from carpets, rugs or anything else that can easily catch fire. If you want a safer, more permanent solution, have additional outlets plugged directly into the wall and eliminate the need for an extension cord completely.

Light fittings & bulbs

Light fittings and bulbs are another common cause of electrical fires. When replacing a fitting or bulb, it’s important to get the wattage right. Any higher than the maximum recommended wattage is a fire safety hazard.

Moreover, don’t underestimate how hot bulbs can get! It goes without saying, keep flammable materials a safe distance away at all times.


Out of sight, out of mind, right? Not when it comes to wiring…

Older homes and buildings are more at risk of catching fire because of faulty wiring. This is because they can’t always handle modern appliances, such as big televisions, computers and game consoles.

If you suspect the wiring in your home or establishment needs sprucing up, keep an eye out for the common signs. These include but are not limited to:

  • Regular power outages
  • Hot-to-the-touch appliances or electronics
  • The smell of burning
  • Flickering or buzzing lights
  • Frequent circuit breaker trips
  • Discoloured outlets

Space heaters

It’s no surprise that space heaters are a common cause of electrical fires. These portable heaters can get very hot and easily cause a fire if left near flammable items. When using one, be extra vigilant to keep it a safe distance away from curtains, rugs, clothes, etc. and never forget to turn it off afterwards!

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