Electrical fires account for over 51,000 home fires and cause over a billion dollars in property damage each year, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi). Understand the common causes of electrical fires and use these preventive measures to keep you and your family safe.
Improper Use of Extension Cords
Appliances and fixtures should be plugged directly into a power outlet. Extension cords are meant for temporary use and most are not designed to handle excessive loads. Also, when using any electric cords, make sure they do not sit under a rug or near highly flammable objects. Cords can produce too much heat and become a fire hazard.
To prevent electrical fires caused by an extension cord, it is best to use heavy-duty power strips. Make sure you have enough electrical outlets in your home so you can safely plug in your appliances without overloading any of them, and take proper precautions when decorating for the holidays.
Be Careful with Portable Space Heaters
Portable space heaters make winter more bearable. Despite all the comfort they offer, they are very much a fire hazard if used improperly. To ensure you stay safe while enjoying the warmth of a space heater, place it in an area away from foot traffic, as well as carpets, curtains, and other flammable materials.
Radiation-type heaters are the best option for indoor use as they are not likely to cause fire through direct contact with common household items. Always shut down and unplug space heaters when you're done using them.
Replace Those Old Appliances For Safety and Energy Efficiency
Some older appliances have insulation that is highly flammable. They also tend to use more energy while running, so you run the risk of overloading your outlet. On top of this, older appliances may also have frayed electric wires that increase the risk of fire.
The best preventive measure is to buy new appliances made of quality material designed to meet modern safety standards. Consider this a necessary expense for your peace of mind and safety. New appliances typically use less energy so they can be a money-saver in the long run.
Replace Outdated Outlets, Switches, and Wiring
If you live in a property that’s more than 20 years old, there’s a chance that your electrical system needs an overhaul. Faulty wirings, worn-out sockets, and switches and outlets with loose wires behind them are just a few issues that could lead to an accident if not checked properly.
You can tell you’re having electrical problems if you’re constantly having issues with the circuit breaker, you smell a burning odor, your lights are flickering, or you experience sparks from outlets. To make sure your home is safe from possible mishaps, you need to call a licensed electrician to check out your electrical system and replace old wirings and outlets.
Choose the Correct Light Bulbs and Fixtures
Electric fires can also be caused by a seemingly harmless light bulb or lamp. You must be careful in choosing the right bulb for your lighting. It’s important to check a lamp’s maximum recommended wattage so you don’t go over it. High wattage bulbs may not be compatible with your light fixture.
If you’re going to use the lighting fixture for an extended amount of time, it should be plugged into an outlet. Also, choose fixtures and bulbs that comply with safety standards.
Make sure you avoid placing paper or cloth over the light fixture. If the bulb generates too much heat and there’s an easily combustible material nearby, this could lead to a fire.
In addition to these safety precautions, it’s also important to install a high-quality smoke detector and fire extinguisher. This system will buy you time during an emergency, so you can minimize property damage, and more importantly, get yourself and your family to safety.
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