Facts and Statistics
According to the latest statistics from ESFI(Electrical Safety Foundation International) , there are about 51,000 home electrical fires each year. They cause nearly 500 deaths, over 1400 injuries and 1.3 billion in property damages. Electrical distribution systems are the 3rd leading cause of home fires, whereas arc faults are responsible for 28,000 fires killing and injuring hundreds of people, causing over $700 million in property damages. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) reports that electrical receptacles cause 5,400 fires every year, leading to 40 deaths and over 100 injuries. 60% of home fire deaths are the result of non working smoke detectors!!
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, inside sleeping areas, and outside of sleeping areas
- Test smoke detectors, AFCI and GFCI monthly to ensure they are working properly
- Establish an emergency evacuation plan to get your family out of the home in an emergency
- use light bulbs that match the recommendation of the fixture
- install tamper resistant outlets, especially if you have young children, to prevent shocks and burns
- watch for signs of electrical problems, such as dim and/or flickering lights, unusual sizzling or buzzing noises from electrical system/components and circuit breakers that trip frequently
- use extension cords for temporary items and never with air conditioners or space heaters
- avoid overloading outlets, consider having more outlets installed if you find overloading common
- know where your electrical panel is and how to operate the breakers. In the event of electrical fire, secure the power before using your ABC extinguisher
- NEVER USE WATER ON AN ELECTRICAL FIRE!!!
More Safety Tips
Turn the power (at the circuit breaker) off if you plan to work on anything that has electricity going to it. This is the best way to make sure there is no power going to that equipment.
Check your outlets
Warm outlets are not a good sign. If an outlet feels warm, or frequently trips the breaker, you should call an electrician to evaluate the situation. Warm outlets could be a sign of loose connection, defective equipment and can lead to fire, shocks or burns.
Check for GFCI in rooms with water service, such as the kitchen, basement and bathroom. The garage and exterior should also have GFCI’s present, because they shut off the power to that outlet or circuit when it detects a shock hazard. If your home is older, it may not have these and I recommend getting them installed by a qualified electrician.
Only one large appliance per outlet, so the circuit doesn’t become overloaded. If you are going to be absent for a length of time, unplug the appliance to save energy and make sure there is not a chance of arcing/sparking. Keep the cords away from sinks and bathtubs. Keep pets and children away from the cords to prevent injury.
Make sure your light bulbs are tight in their sockets, loose bulbs can cause sparks. Unplug a light or turn off the power to that fixture prior to changing the bulbs.
Check the cords for damage, make sure they are not frayed or kinked, and if they are get rid of them. Don’t nail or staple the cord in place, tape is the best solution for this. Plug ends should not be loose, either on the cord or in the outlet. If either is the case, you should replace it.
Outdoors, make sure you prune trees back from power lines, they should not touch. Keep ladders away from power lines when working around the exterior of the home and assume all(especially fallen) power lines are live and dangerous. CALL the power company and block off the area to keep people away!
Checking and paying attention to these items of your home may help keep your family and your home safer from electrical hazards.