In Australia, it is estimated that 40% of all fires are caused by electrical malfunctions in the household. These fires can lead to severe damage and injury, so it is important for all homeowners to know the measures they can take to prevent such incidents from occurring. This article outlines several simple methods for minimising the risk of an electrical fire in your home.
Use Safety Switches
Safety switches, also known as residual current devices (RCDs), are one of the most effective tools for minimising the risk of electrical fires. They work by monitoring the amount of current flowing through the circuit and automatically switching off the power if any abnormalities in the current are detected. Therefore, if an electrical wire in your home is damaged or worn, the circuit will be disconnected before a fire has the chance to ignite.
RCDs are mandatory in new dwellings and renovations, but Australian households built prior to 1990 are not legally required to have them installed. If your home does not have safety switches, we recommend getting them installed as soon as possible. Afterwards, ensure you test your RCDs once a month to guarantee the safety of your family.
Check Electrical Wiring Regularly
Regularly examining the wiring in your home is a key step in its upkeep. This allows any deteriorating wires or hazardous connections to be identified before a potential fire can occur. Homeowners should take the time to check all visible wires, especially around external power points, and make sure they’re free of damage or loose connections.
Licenced electricians should be consulted if any work needs to be done on household wiring. This is especially important during the renovations of older homes, as you may be unaware of live wires that are hidden behind walls.
Install and Maintain a Smoke Alarm
Smoke alarms are an essential safety feature in every home, allowing for potential fires to be detected early and people to evacuate the building before severe harm and damage occurs.
Queensland law around smoke alarms changed in 2017 as a result of an unacceptable number of deaths from fire as a result of non-functional or missing smoke alarms. From 1 January 2017, any smoke alarms manufactured before 2007 must be replaced by photoelectric alarms, which comply with Australian Standards (AS) 3786-2014.
That’s not all: by 1 January 2027, photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms will need to be installed in all private homes, townhouses and units in the following locations:
- on each storey
- in each bedroom
- in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- if there is no hallway between the bedroom and other parts of the storey; and
- if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.
It’s likely that there will be a rush to comply with the 2027 regulations in the weeks and months before it comes into force – we strongly recommend you get ahead of the pack and future-proof your smoke alarms now.
Organise Regular Safety Checks
No matter how vigilant you are with protecting your home from electrical fires, time tends to take its toll on electrical systems. Therefore, it is highly recommended that homeowners organise regular maintenance with qualified electricians to make sure the electrical infrastructure and appliances in their homes meet the highest safety standards.
Having periodic checks on your electrical system can prevent potential problems that lead to a fire, such as frayed wiring or overloaded switchboards, from festering in the background. Electricians also check other parameters that you may not have noticed, like proper earthing and insulation of live wires.
Educate Yourself and The Members of Your Household
Lastly, educating yourself and the other members of your household about the potential causes of electrical fires is just as important as any other way of prevention. Common warning signs such as flickering lights, abnormal smells and excessive heat should always be heeded, and the necessary steps should be taken to remedy the issue.
To ensure your safety, always switch off any electrical devices that emit sparks or have visible signs of wear and tear. Furthermore, make sure important documents such as copies of insurance policies are kept in a safe, accessible area so that the restoration process can be made easier in the event of an emergency.
Just-In Time Electrical is equipped to help you with all your wiring and electrical safety needs. All our technicians have the qualifications and expertise to help ensure that your home is free of electrical fire hazards and can provide you and your family with complete peace of mind about your electrical infrastructure. Contact us today to find out more.
Just-In Time Electrical is your local leading electrical contractor based in Brisbane’s western suburbs. Just-In Time Electrical has been operating for over 12 years and draws on a combined knowledge base of over 30 years.