Overview

Each year, thousands of residential fires are caused by small appliances or faulty home wiring, cords and plugs. It’s one of the leading causes of household fires and can often end in tragedy.

Home wiring

All equipment and appliances in your home that use electricity increases the risk of fire. To reduce the risk, inspect cords and plugs regularly. Contact a qualified electrician immediately if you notice any issues with your home’s wiring. Do not attempt to fix faulty wiring unless you are qualified to do so.

Small appliances

When it comes to small appliances, there’s one important rule to remember – unplug them when you’re not using them. This is especially true with appliances that produce heat, such as:

  • toasters
  • toaster ovens
  • microwave ovens
  • hair dryers
  • portable dishwashers
  • electric kettles

Be cautious with appliances when they are in use. Appliances with automatic turn-offs, for example, may malfunction as they age. Instead of shutting down properly, they could continue to heat up and potentially start a fire.

Check for recalls

You can check for the latest product recalls by visiting the Government of Canada’s recalls and safety alerts page. If you are moving into a home that has appliances installed, you should record their make and model and check for any recalls or review customers’ experiences with those products.

Inspect appliances and cords

Reduce the risk of an electrical fire in your home by following these tips:

  • Replace cracked, frayed or damaged power cords.
  • Never route cords under carpeting or where they can be damaged by furniture.
  • Never use damaged appliances.
  • Stop using an appliance if it repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker. Unplug it and repair or replace it.
  • If you have children, install tamper-resistant outlets.

Protect yourself from electrical shock

Be sure you have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection anywhere electricity and water are within 2 meters of each other to protect against electric shock. These outlets are designed to save lives when a small appliance comes into contact with water.

Ensure your GFCI is working properly:

  1. Press the test button
  2. You should hear a click sound that trips the outlet
  3. To ensure it has actually cut the power, try the same test using a nightlight
  4. If the light goes out, you know you’re safe

Use only approved appliances

Make certain all small appliances have a mark (approved) from an accredited testing laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratories Canada or the Canadian Standards Association. Only use small appliances according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Do not overload outlets

Limit how many appliances are plugged in and being used at the same time. Unplug all small appliances not in use.

Resources

Download our poster and graphics to share online and in your community to help reduce this risk of electrical fires.

Additional information