When it comes to the damage done by electrical fires every year, the numbers are staggering. Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated 25,900 home electrical fires. These fires cause an estimated 280 deaths, 1,125 injuries, and $1.1 billion in property loss. In fact, homeowners lose more money every year as a result of electrical fires than nonelectrical fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. You can even lose your entire home – or worse – because of a bad electrical fire.
Electrical fires are caused by such things as defective appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, misuse of electrical appliances, overloading circuits, and extension cords. The fires caused by faulty wiring can get out of control before you know it. These fires can be difficult to put out because they’re often burning behind walls.
The following safety tips will help you avoid an electrical fire in your home:
- Don’t overload outlets. That means plugging only one appliance into a wall outlet at a time.
- Replace frayed electrical cords. Be sure the new ones have a certification label from an independent testing laboratory.
- Don’t run electrical cords under rugs, carpet or furniture. The cords can overheat and start a fire.
- Don’t use extension cords with appliances. Instead, plug them directly into wall outlets.
- Don’t overloaded power strips. You should only plug a few low-current devices into a power strip.
- Only hire a qualified electrical technician to do electrical work. You should have a licensed electrician inspect your electrical system every 10 years.
- Call a licensed electrician if your outlets feel warm, fuses keep blowing, the circuit breaker keeps tripping, or the lights flicker or dim.
- Inspect electrical cords on appliances, etc., to be sure the wires aren’t damaged, loose, or cracked. If a cord needs to be repaired, take the appliance or item to a professional repair shop, hire a licensed electrician or buy a new item.
- Use light bulbs with the proper wattage in lamps or light fixtures.
Finally, to protect your family and your home, the most important thing to do is ensure your home has been equipped with a monitored home fire alarm system with radio backup monitoring. If an electrical fire erupts when no one is home, your stand-alone smoke detectors may sound an alarm, but who’s going to hear it? Even the best home fire alarm system is ineffective if it can’t reach the central monitoring facility and alert your provider. With radio backup communications, your security system will remain functional and able to send an alarm signal when help is needed.
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