April 25, 2024

One of the biggest dangers of electrical fires is that they can spread quickly and cause extensive damage before anyone realises what is happening. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common causes of electrical fires and take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Nine out of 10 (89%) of electrical fires are caused by electrical products. Damaged cords or overheating appliances can increase the risk of an electrical fire. We highly recommend that you get a PAT test completed regularly replace any damaged cords or faulty appliances.

Another common cause of electrical fires is faulty wiring. Over time, wiring can become damaged or degraded, leading to potential sparks and overheating. It’s important to have your home’s wiring inspected regularly by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is in good working condition.

Electrical fires can also be caused by overloaded circuits. Plugging too many devices into a single outlet can overload the circuit and increase the risk of a fire. Make sure to spread out your electrical devices across multiple outlets and avoid using extension cords for long periods of time.

Whilst electrical fires can be detrimental to peoples properties and lives, they can be prevented by taking immediate action if any of the following occurs:

  • Burning odor – A distinct smell of melting plastic, rubber, or wiring is a common sign of an electrical fire. If you find an unusual or persistent burning smell without any apparent source, it could be a hint of an electrical issue.
  • Smoke – The presence of smoke, whether visible or faint, is a clear warning alarm for fires. If you see it coming from electrical appliances, outlets, or wiring, it’s crucial to act immediately to prevent the fire from spreading.
  • Sparks – Aside from the smoke, visible sparks from outlets, switches, or appliances could signal an impending electrical fire. Be sure to keep an eye out for these sparks, whether they appear intermittently or continuously.
  • Discolored outlets – Scorch marks or discoloration may suggest that outlets or switches are overheating and, consequently, can lead to potential fire damage. If you spot these marks, it’s best to report them for immediate action.
  • Hot switch plates – If the switch plates or outlets feel hot to the touch, it could signify an electrical problem, as heat buildup can be a precursor to an electrical fire.
  • Flickering lights – Frequent flickering of lights, along with a burning smell, could point out an electrical fire hazard. This can arise from loose connections, faulty wiring, or overloaded circuits.
  • Tripped circuit breakers – Circuit breakers and fuses are bound to trip or blow up with too much current flowing. If this happens frequently without getting repaired, it can lead to electrical fires.


What to do in the event of an electrical fire?

In the event of an electrical fire, it’s important to act quickly and safely. Never use water to extinguish an electrical fire, as water conducts electricity and can make the situation worse. Instead, use a fire extinguisher specifically designed for electrical fires

What to do if there is a fire The Department of Communities and Local Government recommends the following:

  • Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible.
  • Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables.
  • If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.
  • Before you open a door check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on the other side.
  • Call 999 as soon as you’re clear of the building. 999 calls are free.


In conclusion, electrical fires are a serious hazard that can have devastating consequences. By being aware of the common causes of electrical fires and taking steps to prevent them, you can help protect your home and loved ones from this dangerous threat. Remember to have your wiring inspected regularly, avoid overloading circuits, and keep an eye on the condition of your electrical appliances. By being proactive about fire safety, you can reduce the risk of an electrical fire occurring in your home.

For more information on getting your electrical appliances, wiring or fire alarms checked click on the below links:

Electrical Installation Condition Report

Portable appliance test (PAT)

Fire Alarm Safety Inspections