Newsbrief Archive

Electric Currents News - October 2015

Help Prevent Electrical Fires

October Is National Fire Prevention Month

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), there are about 51,000 electrical fires each year, accounting for approximately 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries and an estimated $1.3 billion in property damage. 

From space heaters and frayed cords to light bulbs and electrical outlets, it's important that your residents know how to safely use electricity and electrical equipment in order to prevent fires. October is National Fire Prevention Month and it's the perfect time to remind them. Sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Fire Month is observed by many utilities and community groups. It's an opportunity to capitalize upon a shared goal and a chance to highlight safety around electricity.

The month begins with Fire Prevention Week which commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This catastrophe resulted in 250 deaths and 100,000 homeless residents as well as the destruction of more than 17,400 homes and buildings. The fire began on October 8 and continued to rage the following day, when most of the damage occurred. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed during the week of October 9.

We have learned a great deal since 1871. Modern technology is enabling us to eliminate many of the causes of residential fires and utilities have made a concerted effort to educate their customers about electrical safety. These two factors have dramatically reduced the number of accidents but electrical safety is an ongoing process.

In order to prevent electrical fires, it's important to be aware of the common causes. The five most common causes of electrical fires include:

  1. Electrical outlets and old appliances
  2. Light fixtures, lamps, and lightbulbs
  3. Misuse of extension cords
  4. Space heaters
  5. Outdated wiring


Awareness is Critical

Many of the causes of home electrical fires can be avoided through better awareness of potential problems and regular checks of the home’s electrical system by a qualified electrician.

There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the chances of an electrical fire and this is where utility educational outreach is extremely valuable. Customers should be encouraged to conduct a basic assessment of their electrical systems, including all electrical cords, extension cords, power plugs, and outlets.

They should also be aware of warning signals, such as:

  • Flickering lights
  • Unusual buzzing sounds
  • Circuit breakers that trip repeatedly
  • Mild shock or tingle when touching an appliance
  • Warm or hot ceiling light fixtures
  • Light switches or electrical outlets not working
  • Burning odor from outlets or switches


Preventative Measures

The installation of Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) is an excellent preventative measure. An AFCI is a device that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc.

In addition, 65 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke detectors, according to ESFI. This statistic strongly relates to the NFPA’s theme for National Fire Prevention Week: “Hear The Beep Where You Sleep,” encouraging the use of smoke detectors. It is recommended that smoke detectors are installed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.

It's important that every resident know how to prevent electrical fires and how to stay safe around electricity. Helpful manuals and guides are essential resources that are kept on hand by homeowners for regular reference. This National Fire Prevention Month, consider distributing one of the following resources:

  • Electrical Safety Brochure (#44210)
  • Electrical Safety at Home Brochure (#44120)
  • Electrical Safety and You (#25170)


For additional information about fire prevention and electrical safety resources, call us at 800-428-5837, email or visit