Washington State Fire Marshall: Electrical Safety

Olympia – Electricity makes our lives easier. Tasks that are second nature to most of us that include electricity are flipping a light switch, plugging in a coffeemaker, or charging your phone or laptop. Although these tasks are done every day, caution must be observed.

Nationally from 2015-2019, an estimated average of 46,700 home fires involving electrical malfunctions were reported. In 2022, Washington State fire agencies reported 1,039 fires caused by electrical malfunctions for over 25 million in dollar loss.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office asks you to take the following steps to keep you and your family safe:

  • Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician.
  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of shock. GFCIs shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard.
  • Test your GFCIs once a month for proper operation per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • When buying or remodeling a home, have it inspected by a qualified inspector or in accordance with local requirements.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use.
  • Always use a light bulb with the right number of watts.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance, such as a coffee maker, toaster, or space heater, plugged into an outlet at a time.

For more information, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) 596-3929.