In the year 2010 alone, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated that the U.S fire department responded to 46,500 house fires caused by electrical malfunction. Deaths of approximately 420 people and 1,520 injuries were counted, while property damages of up to 1.5 billion were incurred in the 2010 fires. In the years before that, it is reported that most home electrical fires were caused by lighting and electrical equipment.
Most people have fire safety procedures even in their homes, but prevention strategies are what will ensure your home safety. Is your electrical system up to date? Are your appliances functioning properly? Electrical malfunctioning can happen as a result of a number of reasons; you, therefore, need to regularly go through the checklists below to notice any likely home safety threats before they occur.
Have all your outlets and switches checked regularly by a licensed electrician? Malfunctioned switches may be as a result of ill wiring which could cause a fire
Check for discoloration on your switches and outlets. This may be an indication of dangerous heat buildup at those connections.
Is there any noise emanating from the switches and outlet in the house? This indicates unsafe wiring that needs to be fixed.
Plugs should fit in perfectly into outlets, otherwise, lose ones can cause overheating and fires.
Are there any damaged appliance cords? These should be fixed or else may be a shock hazard.
Do not use any cords under a carpet as they won’t have sufficient air flow around them, resulting in running a risk of creating a fire.
Extension codes shouldn’t be used permanently; instead, have more power outlets installed.
In damp areas, always use water resistant cords to reduce the risk of electrocution.
Follow manufacturer’s manual directives on proper plugging of devices
Avoid overloading one outlet with high heat-producing devices.
Check the lighting in each room. Always use bulbs with correct wattage according to your lamp or ceiling fixture. If not indicated, use the minimum wattage possible.
Always place lamps on level surfaces and away from any combustible materials.
Unplug any appliances that don’t need a constant power supply. These may include burners, toasters and many other small appliances.
Keep your kitchen exhaust fan clean and free of grease, lint and other obstructions.
Safely ensure that cords don’t come into contact with hot surfaces. This may result in the cords melting, exposing wires that may electrocute someone.
Make sure that portable or space heaters obtain a seal of approval from a nationally-recognized testing laboratory (NRTL).
Keep heat-producing appliances away from flammable items.
Relocate any appliance from the sink or tub area to avoid electrocution.
Consider having heating fans installed instead of portable heaters for the bathroom.
Have a licensed electrician install Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) which are a type of circuit breakers that buffer the current when risky circumstances arise.
Another consideration is having Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) installed in your outlets. These are a type of circuit breakers that help reduce electrocution by switching off the circuit when it becomes dangerous.
Test your AFCIs and GFCIs at least once per month.
Check your fuse box or circuit breaker box; are they the correct size for your current? The wrong size can allow for the flow of too much current that can cause a fire hazard through overheating of wires. Periodically flip circuit breakers off and on to keep from getting stuck as well as keep them in good working order.
Ensure that your outdoor outlets and garden tools are well maintained. Provide waterproof covers where necessary and periodic servicing of the appliances, maintaining their good working condition.
Due to the adventurous nature of children, you may need to install your household with tamper-resistant (TR) electrical receptacles which are now also recommended for new and renovated homes.
To have your underground lines marked out before any digging, always dial 811.
Contact a licensed electrician or your landlord when you notice any of the following signs:
Dimming or Flickering lights may indicate bad wiring or circuit overload.
Can you smell something burning? Overheating plastic can be a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored.
Frequent circuit trips can be an indication of a power overload or a faulty wiring.
If you get a zing or a buzzing sensation when touching a switch, cord or plug you need to have it checked to avoid electrocution.
An electrical appliance that was accidentally soaked or submerged in water should be immediately discarded.
An outlet that sparks is warm to the touch or discolored, may be an indication of bad wiring or even a faulty device which should be repaired.
In light of all this, safeguard your home by adhering to this as well as the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You should have a routine electrical inspection by a certified electrician, every 10 to 40 years. In cases where you have added new high-wattage appliances or you detect faulty wiring signs, this inspection is vital.