According to the U.S. Fire Administration, during a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 2,305 injuries, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. They also report that most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom. Stoves, ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, and radios are the most common culprits in electrical fires. There are some basic tips that homeowners can do to improve the electrical safety of their homes.
- Check and replace outlets that have loose-fitting plugs or broken or missing wall plates. These have the potential to overheat and lead to fires.
- Always use safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to your children.
- Make sure all cords are in good condition, not frayed of cracked, and are out of high-traffic areas where people could trip.
- Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboard, or any other object.
- Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest furniture on them.
- Overloaded extension cords are another major hazard. Do not overload with too many appliances and never force or alter a plug that doesn’t fit.
- Always make sure your plugs fit your outlets.
- Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the fixture size.
- Never leave plugged-in appliances where they might come in contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, NEVER REACH in to pull it out. First, turn off the power source at the panel board. Then, unplug the appliance.
- Don’t use the wet appliance until it has been checked by a qualified repairperson.
- Space heaters are another fire major hazard. Each year, portable heating equipment causes an average of 4,200 fires in U.S. homes. Safe usage of a space heater can prevent most mishaps.
- Make sure that you don’t use space heaters with extension cords. Plug them directly into an outlet on a relatively unburdened circuit when in use, and unplug them when you’re finished.
- Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or close to any sleeping person.
- Always turn a space heater off if you leave the area and keep children and pets away from space heaters.
Statistics show that electrical fires are a major hazard to homeowners, and should be avoided at all costs. By taking some very easy and basic steps you can prevent these accidents from happening to you and prevent your home and family from becoming just another statistic!