Home Electrical Safety Tips and Advice

Written by  //  March 29, 2013  //  Electrical Wiring  //  No comments

More than 400 people are killed and at least 1,500 people are injured each year due to home fires involving electrical problems. While electrical incidents are not the only contributor to home fires, the injuries and deaths incurred each year warrant much concern. You can help reduce the number of home electrical fires that occur annually by taking the following precautions.

1. Tis the season. A spike in home electrical fires takes place in December and January. Christmas and other seasonal lighting is a cause as are appliances such as areas heaters. Most such fires begin the bedroom, while death is more likely when fires start elsewhere in the home such as in the living room or den.

2. Check faulty wiring. Overload your wiring such as plugging too many wires into one outlet is a receipt for disaster. Never run cords under rugs and avoid leaving hot light fixtures on all night.

3. Replace or toss. Old wiring should be replaced or removed. If you own a cat, be mindful that some felines enjoy chewing wires, creating a potential fire hazard. When buying new appliances including lamps, it should sport a UL Laboratory label.

4. Plug it in. The more powerful the appliance, the greater the need for its own outlet. Do not use an extension cord to connect your 1,000-watt heater — a dedicated outlet is a must.

5. Know thy prong. It is possible to shove a three-prong plug into a two-prong outlet. It is also a dangerous practice, one that should be avoided at all costs.

6. Keep it free. Light fixtures and other hot surfaces are “kindling” for clothing, paper and curtains that may touch the surface. If you use a portable electric heater, FEMA advises giving it wide berth — at least three feet in all directions.

7. Temporary usage, not permanent. Heavy duty extension cords are certainly better than lighter household cords, but these should only be used temporarily. If your electrical connections are that limited, then it is time to call in a licensed electrician to make permanent modifications.

8. Test your smoke detectors. You have smoke detectors installed in your home, right? That may not be good enough if the batteries have died. Check your detectors twice annually — once in the spring and again in the fall. Locate detectors in the vicinity of your kitchen, near a fireplace and in sleeping areas. While you are at it, go over your fire escape plan with your family. If you do not have one, make one.

Call for Help

Never attempt to put an electrical fire out on your own. Get everyone out of the home and in a safe place before contacting your fire department immediately.

Signs of potential trouble include flickering lights, a tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance, a burning smell coming from an appliance and sparks emitting from a wall outlet. Call an electrician as long as fire is not present, but any of these problems are.

References
National Fire Protection Association: Electrical Safety in the Home — http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp
FEMA: Electrical Home Fire Safety — http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/electrical.shtm

Author Information
Andy Sparks is an avid blogger and contributor to Ontime-Electric.com, a leading electrician in Houston TX.

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