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 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.

Find out more about fire and life safety

Vancouver Fire Rescue Services teach fire and life safety courses where you can learn valuable life and safety skills, and gain hands on fire extinguishing experience. Register yourself, or arrange for us to teach your group to prevent fires in your home, business, school, and other private and public places.

Sign up for fire safety training

Contact Fire Prevention

Monday to Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

600 - 575 W 8th Ave
Vancouver BC, V5Z 0C4