Vatterott College Observes Fire Prevention Week with, Top 5 Signs of Electrical Problems that could Start a Fire

Fire Prevention Week is October 4th-10th, with that in mind this is the perfect time to make sure your fire safety knowledge is in check.  Electrical problems are one of the larger causes of domestic fires, in fact The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2011 47,700 of the fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved some kind of electrical failure or malfunction.  Luckily, there are telltale signs that can help homeowners identify when they are having significant electrical problems that need to be addressed right away.  When these problems are caught and solved early they can prevent extremely dangerous fires from occurring.

Vatterott College-Wichita Electrical Program Director Dane Lea has five signs to help identify when a home is having electrical problems and what to do if they happen in your home.

1.       Electric Shock

If you feel a mild shock or tingle when touching an appliance, this is a sign of improper wiring or a ground fault.  You should un-plug this appliance immediately and replace.

2.       Frequent Circuit Breaker Tripping

This is a sign that you’ve overloaded that circuit.  A circuit breaker is designed to shut off the electrical supply when overloaded to prevent wires from overheating and potentially starting a fire.  It can also be a sign that your breakers are old.  Try plugging your appliance into a different circuit.  If it causes that breaker to trip repeatedly as well, call a professional.

3.       Unreliable Switches and Outlets

Switches or outlets that only work intermittently are a sign that wiring may be loose or the device may be cracked internally.  This can be a big fire hazard, and you’ll need an electrician to inspect the wiring and replace a defective switch or outlet. 

4.       Hot Ceiling Fixtures or Flickering Lights

Poor insulation and exceeding maximum recommended wattage for bulbs can cause ceiling fixtures to overheat and cause a fire.  Take some time every so often to feel around a light fixture to see if the surrounding area is hot, that will help you determine if it needs to be checked out. Flickering light can mean a loose or defective bulb, if replacing it doesn't help its time to contact a professional.

5.       Burning odor or sparks

A burning odor coming from an outlet or switch could be a faulty device, or a wiring or overload problem.  Be sure to turn the power off at the electrical panel immediately.  Large or frequently occurring sparks are also problematic and need to be inspected.


Keeping your home and family safe from electrical fires doesn't have to be difficult, you just need to pay attention to the right signs and act accordingly. 

Vatterott College-Wichita offers an Electrical Mechanic diploma program.  For more information please visit

About Vatterott College
Vatterott College has been dedicated to providing quality career training to students seeking the skills to advance in their field since 1969. Vatterott, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, has campuses across the Midwest. Diploma, associate and bachelor degrees are offered in trade industries and computer technology, with 20 locations across seven states as well as online programming. To learn more, please visit