Preventing electrical fires
Electrical fires are one of the top causes of house fires in Canada. This page provides a general overview of electrical cord, plug, and appliance safety. You may also find it helpful to speak with a certified electrician.
Electrical cord and electrical plug safety
Inspecting electrical cords and electrical plugs regularly helps reduce the risk of electrical fires.
- Discard all cords and plugs that are worn or frayed.
- Never break off the third prong on a plug to plug it into a two-pronged outlet.
- Replace two-pronged outlets with three-pronged outlets.
When plugging in or unplugging items:
- Hold a plug securely to pull it from the wall. Pulling on the cord can wear the cord out, and increase the risk of a short circuit, an electrical shock, or a fire.
- Use multi-outlet extenders, power bars, and surge protectors sparingly. Otherwise you can risk overloading a single circuit.
- Use extension cords temporarily. If you need the extra length more often, speak to a certified electrician to install additional electrical outlets.
- Avoid running electrical cords beneath carpets.
- Keep electrical cords away from sources of heat and water.
Warning: When young children are present, cover unused outlets with safety plugs, or install outlets with spring-latch covers.
Electrical appliance safety
- Buy appliances approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
- Follow manufacturer instructions.
- Disconnect small appliances (toasters, toaster ovens, coffee makers, etc.) before cleaning them.
- Have defective appliances checked by a professional.
- Disconnect small appliances when not in use, for instance when you are on vacation.
Check for inadequate electrical wiring
Older homes and apartments can have inadequate wiring. This can be a fire hazard and an electrical hazard. If your home matches any of the statements below, contact a certified electrician to inspect your electrical system.
- You unplug one appliance before plugging in another appliance, otherwise you may trip a circuit breaker or blow a fuse.
- You run multiple extension cords, or plug multiple cords into a single outlet because you don't have enough outlets.
- Your furniture arrangement options are limited if you need to be close to electrical outlets.
- Your small appliances, such as toasters or irons, are slow to heat.
- You notice that the lights dim when you use certain appliances.
- You enter rooms and stairways in darkness because there are not enough three- or four-way light switches.