Preventing Electrical Fires in Lawrence, KS
Preventing Electrical Fires with Nine Easy Tips
In today’s society, people are working overtime to meet the pressures of daily life. With technology and electronic accessories being an inescapable part of day-to-day activities, it means that electricity is in high-demand, and it is working around the clock in the home setting.
Children need their cell phones charges at all times to keep in touch with their parents, and adults use their computers late into the night to complete work assignments. When work and school are done, dinner needs to be cooked with the appliances in the kitchen and the family likes to unwind with television, video games, music, and a multitude of various electronic devices. In addition, electricity is needed to heat and cool the home and run light fixtures.
Undoubtedly, homes today are generating a tremendous amount of electricity, and the greater the electric load, the greater the risk of electrical-related fires. It should be noted that, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical fires cause approximately 51,000 fires in the home that result in close to 500 deaths and more than 1,400 injuries, and approximately $1.3 billion in property damage per year. Following are nine safety measures one can adhere to in order to reduce the risk of electrical fires in one’s home:
- On a regular basis, have the home inspected for loose wires, shorts, and faulty wiring that increase the risk of potential electrical fires, as electrical wiring eventually needs to be replaced. This is especially pertinent if one lives in an older home. Signs that faulty wiring is a pressing issue and can include flickering lamps, buzzing outlets, or outlets that spark when an electronic device is plugged in. If one of these indications occurs, do not delay in hiring a certified electrician to give the home an inspection to determine if the wiring is safe or if it is in need of rewiring.
- Install a smoke detector on every level of the home and inside each bedroom. It is vital to make sure the smoke detectors are working properly by testing them every month. Test the detectors to ensure that all members of the home knows the sound of the smoke detector. Also, create a plan so that the entire family knows what to do in case of an actual fire. Once a plan is in place, practice each aspect of fire-escape strategy to guarantee its success.
- Utilize safety measures with electric cords. This includes replacing cords that are loose, frayed, or contain cracks. Never place cords in areas that receive a large volume of foot traffic, such as under mates or carpeting. Avoid tacking cords to surfaces with nails or staples. If an extension cord is being used on a long-term basis, consider having outlets installed by a certified electrician nearer to your electronic devices.
- Only use the correct wattage light bulbs in all fixtures. If the wattage is higher than the requirement noted on the lamp or appliance, replace the bulbs immediately. Firmly secure light bulbs in the socket to safeguard them from overheating.
- Use surge protectors to guard appliances and other electronics in your home. ESFI says it is important that homeowners use a surge protector that is equivalent to the equipment one has while keeping in mind that they only protect the items that are directly plugged into them. Note that there are two basic types of surge protectors: the power strip accompanied by a surge protector and the wall-mount surge protector. When buying a surge protector, locate one that has the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) mark of approval and always avoid overloading it. As with wiring, surge protectors will eventually need to be replaced, especially if the home experiences a large surge or frequent power surges.
- Store flammables away from electrical appliances. It is helpful to establish a safe, designated area for flammable chemicals in your home.
- As the average daily temperature declines, portable space heaters run a high risk of electrical fires. Other risks include lamps, blow dryers, hair straighteners, and clothing irons. Any object made of fabric, such as towels and bath mats, can quickly ignite and spread fire rapidly.
- Place a fire extinguisher is all major rooms of the home, such as kitchen, bedrooms, and laundry room. The National Fire Protection Association suggests a multi-purpose extinguishers that carry an “A, B, C” combination classification while also carrying the label of an independent testing laboratory. Have all family members read the instructions on how to use the fire extinguisher. Extinguishers are useful in containing small fires until the fire department arrives, but the first priority should be getting one’s family out of the home safely.
- Arcs cause numerous electrical fires every year, but this can be combated by installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) breaker in the home. Arcs in the home’s electrical system occur when an electrical current flows through an inadvertent path generating a sudden, high temperature in electrical wires. When this happens, the extreme temperatures can easily ignite other combustible materials surrounding it, such as wood or insulation. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association says having an AFCI breaker offers greater fire protection for homeowners than a standard circuit breaker. An AFCI monitors the circuits in your home for the presence of hazardous arcing conditions and instantly disconnects the damaged circuit before the arc has time to build enough heat to cause a fire. As of 2008, the National Electrical Code has required new homes to have AFCI protection, but the code varies from state to state, and older homes are at a greater risk due to aging electrical wiring. As always, have a qualified electrician install the AFCI
Reducing the risk of electrical fires in one’s home is relatively simple, but the safety benefits are worth a great deal of peace-of-mind.