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Electrical fires in homes kill 310 Americans and injure another 1,100 people each year, causing over $1 billion in property damage in the process. Following safety guidelines can avoid the dangers and keep families safe.
DENVER, CO – Electrical fires in U.S. homes cause 310 deaths and more than 1,100 injuries each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These statistics come from the estimated 28,000 fires each year attributable to home electrical problem, resulting in just over $1.1 billion annually in property damage. More than half of these fires – 53% — involve issues with electrical wiring.
As professional electricians, we here at Allstar Electrical Services are well aware of the dangers posed by faulty wiring, overloading circuits, frayed cords and the improper use of such appliances as space heaters and fans. We often get called in to fix problems after a fire has occurred, sometimes in an emergency, but more often than not what we notice – a lot – is the potential for a fire in the home caused by a myriad of factors we see in inspections and during service calls to homes. We have prepared a few Electrical Fire Safety Tips to help homeowners avoid the dangers and expense of an electrical fire, and to troubleshoot their use of electricity.
Electricity is, of course, one of the centerpiece amenities of the modern home, and without it our lifestyles would be interrupted immeasurably. But that is the key to electrical problems: the last 10 years has brought a vast array of electrical devices into our homes and lifestyles, placing an extra load on a home’s electrical system, a load often unanticipated when homes built in the 1990s and before were constructed. Think about all those news kitchen appliances, bathroom conveniences and home entertainment systems that draw electricity and that weren’t the norm in most homes just a few short years ago. Indeed, the major service call we receive from homeowners is to install new receptacles and switches to more safely and conveniently deliver electrical service to all of the new power toys our customers are buying.
Of course, the absolute best way to give your home an electrical examination is to call in Allstar Electrical Services for a professional assessment of all of your circuits, outlets, switches, light fixtures and appliances to ensure the home’s electrical system is operating in the safest possible manner. But here is our Electrical Fire Safety Tips for homeowners to use to evaluate their present electrical condition and to avoid any problems, as they say, down the line.
Electrical Fire Safety Tips:
· Install smoke detectors in all rooms of your home, in the garage, and in stairwells and hallways, and periodically check to make sure they are working properly and the batteries aren’t dead. (Good smoke detectors have a “test” button on them, and we recommend performing a whole-house check twice a year, on the same day you change all the clocks to “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back” for Daylight Savings Time).
· Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring. Frayed wires can cause fires, so replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately, or simply discard the appliance and get a new one. (When buying a lamp or appliance make sure it carries a certification, like the “UL” seal from Underwriters Laboratories).
· Replace any electrical tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.
· Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special attention to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
· Touch electrical outlets and switches – if they are warm to the touch, there could be a problem in the wiring.
· Keep clothes, curtains, and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
· If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
· Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons, and hair dryers.
· Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
· Use electrical extension cords wisely; extension cords should not be used in tandem (two cords or more to extend reach), and they should never run under carpets, rugs, bedding or baseboards.
· Never overload extension cords or wall sockets using extension plugs.
· Be very careful with nails or staples used to attach electrical cords to the walls or baseboards because it is easy to damage the cords and cause fire or shock hazards. An alternative is to tape cords to walls or floors, or carefully use “U” fastneners.
· Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
· Plan two escape routes from each floor of your home and practice using them. Be sure you can open doors and windows from the inside without a key.
· Don’t place anything that will burn near a furnace, water heater, space heater, or the stove top.
· Don’t use flammable chemicals near appliances with pilot lights.
· Check labels on lamps and use the right size bulb(s).
· Check the label on your fuse box and be sure you use the right size fuses. For fuse boxes and circuit breakers, make sure the box is labeled for which fuse/circuit breaker controls what outlets, switches, lights and appliances.
· Fix electrical problems right away. If fuses blow often, circuit breakers trip often, switches get hot or people are shocked, something is wrong.
· A ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a special type of outlet that prevents shocks and these outlets are recommended – and often required by code — for areas where water is used, like in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry areas, garages, basements, outdoor outlets, and around pools, saunas, and hot tubs. Test these outlets monthly (there is a “test” and “reset” button on GFICs).
Like anything else, electrical wiring and appliances wear out over time and require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure proper operation. Keeping these Electrical Fire Safety Tips in mind can keep your home safe.
For all of your electrical needs, including electrical system inspections, visit www.allstarelectrical.com or call 303-399-7420. Allstar Electrical Services serves the entire Denver metro area with complete residential and commercial electrical services.
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