Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 280 Americans each year and injure 1,000 more.
Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures, but many more are caused by incorrectly installed wiring and overloaded circuits and extension cords.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 26,100 fires and $1 billion in property losses. About half of all residential electrical fires involve electrical wiring.
December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating, and appliance use. The bedroom is the leading area of fire origin for residential building electrical fires. However, electrical fires that begin in the living room/family room/den areas result in the most deaths.
As an electricians and a parents, we can never stress enough the importance of exercising caution and proper safety when it comes to electricity. Most of have, at some point in our lives, used unsafe practices regarding electricity. If it wasn’t us, it may have been a parent or grandparent. While enjoying electric TVs, radios and other appliances, we may forget they can cause shocks and fires. Here are some more electrical safety tips to help keep you and your family safe:
- People who live in homes that are more than 10 years old should consider having the wiring inspected. If your home is more than 40 years old, an inspection is overdue. Be sure to consult with your local building inspector before making repairs.
- Never place electric cords under rugs or bedding. Heat or sparks from these cords could cause a fire.
- Follow the safety tips on new appliances.
- Check electrical cords for signs of wear. Replace frayed or cracked cords to prevent shocks and fires.
- Check labels on lamps and use the right size bulb. Check the label on your fuse box and be sure you use the right size fuses.
- Fix electrical problems right away. If fuses blow often, circuit breakers trip often, switches get hot or people are shocked, something is wrong.
- Cover unused outlets with plastic plugs.
- If a cord has 3-prongs, use it properly. Don’t remove the extra prong. The third prong is there because the appliance must be grounded to prevent electrical shocks.
- Take cover during a thunder storm. If you are indoors, stay away from open windows and doors and use the telephone only in an emergency. If you are outdoors stay in your car and away from water, trees, and metal objects. Avoid low areas that might flood in a heavy rain.
- Do not overload outlets. Extension cords shouldn’t be used as permanent fixtures in home rebuilding.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
A ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI is a special type of outlet that prevents shocks. These outlets are recommended for areas where water is used. Install GFCIs in bathrooms, kitchens (within 6 feet of the sink), laundry areas, garages, basements, outdoor outlets, and around pools, saunas, and hot tubs. Test these outlets monthly.
For more information on electrical safety, or to have your home evaluated for potential risks, call Laudan Electric, Inc today at (239) 369-8884.
Some information reprinted from the U.S. Fire Administration Website: