Electrical fires occur in American homes with great regularity. According to the US Fire Administration:
• Over 28,300 residential electrical fires occur annually, causing nearly 350 deaths, 1,000 injuries and over $995 million in damage
• Fifteen percent of residential fires start in bedrooms
• Nearly half (47%) of the residential electrical fires where equipment was involved were caused by the building’s wiring
• Twenty-two percent of residential electrical fires occur in December and January. (Christmas lighting and decorations)
• Extension cord abuse accounts for a large percentage of losses
Electricity is like water. You’d have a hard time living without it, but it can also kill you if you abuse it. So, here are 10 tips on how to prevent electrical fires, prevent insurance claims, and save lives.
1. When you buy extension cords, only buy cords approved by Underwriters Laboratories. You will find the “UL Approved” label on the cord.
2. Be sure the extension cord’s capacity matches the appliance or device you plug into it.
3. Don’t use extension cords that are frayed or cracked or coiled up.
4. Don’t run extension cords under rugs or carpets.
5. Feel the extension cord while it’s in use. If it is warm or hot, replace it with a cord of greater capacity.
6. Don’t overload extension cords. The wattage of all devices plugged into the cord should not exceed its rated wattage. Usually the rated wattage is printed on the cord or attached by a tag.
7. Install light bulbs with wattages that are equal to or below any fixture’s maximum wattage. For example, a light fixture tag may say “do not exceed 75 watts.”
8. Dispose of or repair appliances or devices that blow fuses or trip circuit breakers.
9. Don’t leave a pan cooking on an electric stove unattended.
10. Homes built before the 1970s are more prone to electrical wiring fires. With the modern use of more powerful appliances and electronics, your system may require an upgrade. Call a licensed electrician for an evaluation. An upgrade may get you a discount on your homeowners insurance.
You can eliminate most electrical risks by following these ten tips.
Live better, live more safely!