Some warning signs that an electrical problem is afoot

electrical outlet
SEATTLE -- Electrical failures cause nearly 45,000 house fires each year -- fires that claim the lives of more than 400 people.

May is National Electrical Safety Month and John Drengenberg at Underwriters Labs reminds us of some of the warning signs of an electrical problem.

"Flickering lights, hot outlet covers, TV screens that flicker or blowing fuses and circuit breakers all the time means that there's something wrong with the electrical system and you want to be very careful with that because electrical systems do cause fires," Drengenberg said.

Spot any of these warning signs and you need to contact a electrician to find out what's causing the problem.

Never ignore a burning smell in the house even if it's faint. Have it checked out right away.

But Drengenberg has a word of caution for do-it-yourself electricians.

"We found that many people disregard some of the most simple instructions, like using the white wire as the neutral when they install a new light switch or a new light fixture," he said. "It's always a good idea to read those instructions."

More Electrical Safety Tips:

5 ways to prevent electrical fires

Resources for Homeowners

Home Electrical Fire Prevention