Increased electrical use during hot summer weather increases the risk of fires in homes with older or damaged wiring systems. Summertime necessities, such as air conditioning, can strain and overload an electrical system, creating a serious shock and fire hazard.

"Nationwide, an estimated 50 million older homes and buildings with outdated electrical wiring and systems are at greater risk of dangerous deterioration and becoming overloaded," says Safe Electricity Director Molly Hall.

The wiring of many homes is not equipped to properly handle and support today's increased electrical demands. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than half of all homes in the U.S. are at least 30 years old. The wiring in many of these older homes was designed to handle only about half of the electrical demands of today’s residents.

"Overloaded electrical circuits, and faulty equipment and wiring can cause not only inconvenient power outages, but hazardous conditions that could result in injury, or even death," says Hall.

Watch for these warning signs. If you have any of these present, you should have your home inspected by a professional:

  • Lights often flicker, blink or dim momentarily 
  • Circuit breakers trip or fuses blow often 
  • Cords or wall plates are warm to the touch or discolored 
  • Crackling, sizzling or buzzing is heard from outlets

A home electrical inspection to find and correct hidden hazards could prevent many of these tragedies. The time and investment in having a qualified electrician check your residence, and perform a few home repairs and upgrades are small compared with the protection and safety they provide to your family and home.

No matter the season or age of homes, residents should be vigilant and check for electrical hazards such as cracked or fraying electrical cords, overloaded outlets and circuits, and improper wattage light bulbs in lamps and light fixtures. Also, make sure smoke alarms are placed and functioning properly.