Electrical fires are not as uncommon as many homeowners think, although very often they are caused by something completely avoidable in the home. Keeping your home safe when it comes to your electrical use is not difficult and may simply involve avoiding some dangerous practices as well as updating your home's wiring and outlets when needed. Note a few common causes of electrical fires in the home and how you can avoid them.

1. Light fixtures

Lamps and light fixtures can actually be a common cause of electrical fires, if you use a bulb with a wattage that is too high for the fixture. This can produce excess heat and, in turn, ignite something near the lamp or the lampshade itself. Also, it's good to avoid putting any type of plastic, paper, or fabric over a lamp as the heat from the bulb can cause any of these to ignite. If you want to create a mood with the light from your lamp, buy a fun lampshade or colored bulb instead of draping fabric or paper over the lamp.

2. Cords

Worn and frayed cords are another common cause of electrical fires. Never use an older electrical device with a cord that is bare or frayed in any way, as this can cause electricity to come into contact with combustible materials like carpeting and drapes. You also never want to run cords under carpeting, as the foot traffic can cause the cords to become worn as they are constantly tugged and pulled away from the device to which they are attached.

3. Outlets

Faulty outlets with old wiring can cause electrical fires as they may not protect the circuit of electricity as it travels from the outlet to a cord that you plug into the wall. If you notice heat from the outlet, black soot around the outlet, or any type of popping or crackling noise when you plug in something, have the outlet inspected and the wiring replaced as needed.

4. Old wiring

Outdated wiring often cannot handle the demands put upon it by today's electrical devices, and while breaker boxes should stop a dangerous overload of electricity, if they too are very old, then their connectors may not work as they should. In turn, they may allow a surge of electricity that could result in a fire. If your home's wiring is more than a decade old, it can be good to have it inspected and upgraded by an electrician as necessary.