Common Causes of Electrical Emergencies

High voltage vector sign on dark metal plate

Electricity is essential for our day to day lives. When the power goes out, it can be so problematic that it costs people their lives, such as during extreme weather events or when hospital power is lost. Even when we’re not in danger of losing our lives, we’re often heavily handicapped in what we can do when the power doesn’t work.

Although electricity is extremely important, when electricity isn’t handled with respect they can cause emergencies of their own. The safe use of electricity is very important. Below are the most common causes of electrical emergencies, and what you can do to stay safe.

Frayed Cords

As appliances age, their cords are often one of the first parts to give out. A worn out cord can become frayed, exposing the wires within. Although the appliance might still work, that frayed point on the cord can generate excessive amounts of heat.

If the frayed cord is touching something that is flammable, it leads to the potential for a fire. Every year, about 51,000 electrical fires are started, leading to as many as 500 deaths.

Extension Cord Misuse

Extension cords are a valuable tool that help you use equipment even when it is not close to an outlet. This can backfire however, when extension cords are abused. Extension cords should never be used with large appliances such as washers and dryers.

If you need to plug in a large appliance and there is no outlet nearby, this is one example where you should have an outlet professionally installed rather than use extensions cord.

Old Wiring

Wiring that is 20 years old or older was designed for the electrical usage of the past—a time when cellphones were rare, ipads didn’t exist, streaming was unheard of, and certainly not all of these electrical demands were happening at once.

Our modern electrical usage is a huge burden to the electrical system, and if the wiring in the home is old it’s likely that it won’t be able to hold up to the demands of today’s use.

Signs your wiring can’t keep up are small power outages, sparks shooting from outlets, and unexplainable burning smells. If you notice any of these things, it’s best to call an electrician to have the house rewired right away.

Straining wiring systems can lead to house fires, since overtaxed wire systems can cause excessive heat.

Using the wrong wattage for light bulbs

Lights are often the most used part of a home, and the part of the home that is on the longest. If you put a light bulb in for a higher wattage than the light fixture can tolerate, it can lead to an electrical fire. This type of electrical fire is one of the leading causes of electrical fires and is easily avoided.


Electrical safety is very important to help keep your home safe. We need electricity to help our lives be more comfortable, but that should never come at the expense of safety.