According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), half of all homes in the United States were built before the advent of automatic coffeemakers or garage door openers, and one-third were built before hair dryers or electric can openers. Add to that computers, cell phones, and other electrical devices, and you have a great many residences with potential electric wiring problems.

Research from ESFI shows that faulty or overloaded wiring accounts for an estimated 67,800 fires, 500 deaths, and more than 2,000 injuries each year, and a whopping $868 million in property damage. By educating yourself about common hazards in older homes and installing lifesaving electrical safety devices, these risks can be reduced greatly.

The lifesaving technology available includes:

  • AFCIs—an outlet that recognizes fire hazards and immediately shuts off power.
  • GFCIs—an outlet that senses when water comes into contact and cuts out to prevent electrocution.
  • Tamper-Resistant Outlets—designed to protect children from inserting small objects into them.

In addition to installing the technology above, here are some additional safety tips:

  • Make sure functioning smoke alarms are installed on every floor and in every sleeping area.
  • Look for telltale signs of electrical problems such as dimming lights, frequent circuit breaker trips, or blown fuses.
  • Limit use of extension cords, particularly cords used to power room air conditioners.
  • Use lightbulbs that are the proper wattage for a fixture; higher wattage bulbs can degrade wires.

Source: ESFI; Consumer Product Safety Commission