Earlier in the year, faulty wiring caused a fire at a home in Rhode Island that killed five people. Investigators believe that the faulty wiring generated excessive heat due to surrounding insulation and ignited the wood of the house. The fire began above the first floor. Unfortunately, the only smoke detector was in the basement, which the smoke never reached.
Fires caused by electrical wiring are not limited to homes either. Last year a Virgin Atlantic plane caught fire. The crew noticed a small fire in the waste bin area in the first class section of the plan and saw a damaged wiring assembly. The pilot was able to divert the plane to a nearby airport, but in the meantime, the crew was unable to put out the fire. They used five fire extinguishers but the fire continued to reignite. If a fire caused by faulty wiring has injured you or a loved one, a Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.
Fires Caused By Faulty Wiring
Faulty wiring and other problems with wiring and outlets are the third leading cause of fires (the leading cause is cooking, and second is the use of heating equipment). Electrical problems relating to wiring account for nearly 70,000 fires a year in the United States. These fires result in several hundred deaths, thousands of injures, and going on a billion in property damage each year.
With electrical wiring and outlets, it is always important to pay attention to warning signs such as:
- Sensation of extra heat
- Loose or frayed cords
- Feeling a tingle when you touch an electrical appliance
- Discoloration around outlets
- Flickering lights
- Unusual smells and odors coming from appliances or outlets
Unless you notice a warning sign and act appropriately, it may be difficult to detect faulty wiring. Always use qualified and reputed electricians in your homes. For apartments and homes already built, investigate fires and electrical problems with past residents over the years. An electrician may be able to provide you with an assessment of the building’s electrical safety.
Other Safety Tips for Preventing Electrical Fires
The following are some of the additional ways that electricity plays a role in causing fires and what you can do to prevent such fires:
- Overloading: This is common in college dorm rooms (where numerous electronic devices may be plugged in) and during special events and parties where extra lights and appliances are in use. Limit the use of power strips that multiply the number of outlets. If you are using a high-wattage appliance like a microwave, do not use anything else on that outlet. ‘Overload’ fires are most common during December and other winter months, as people spend more time indoors.
- Overheating: Sometimes you can sense heat coming from an outlet or a switch. Play it safe and unplug everything from an outlet that seems to be abnormally warm. Have a qualified electrician check it. In addition, give plugged in items enough space, such as a TV.
- Poor safety habits: Keep combustible items like clothes, curtains, and rugs away from outlets and plugged in appliances.
- Replacing fuses and dealing with tripped circuit breakers: Have an electrician find out what caused the overload before you replace the fuses or reset the circuit breaker. A recurring problem is a sign that you may be overloading something.
- Use and maintain smoke detectors: A common recommendation is to have one on every floor and in every bedroom. Periodically replace their batteries.
If faulty wiring or the negligent use of electricity has injured you or a loved one, contact a Virginia personal injury lawyer at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. to find out more about how to defend your rights.