General awareness of electrical hazards inside a home is essential for reducing the shocking number of electrically-related house fires, injuries and deaths that occur each year. Routine house safety checks are critical in the long-run for your protection. Before an electrical fire can break out, identify and correct potential electrical hazards in and around your home. Protect your home!
Switches and sockets – Incorrectly operating switches or outlets may indicate an unsafe wiring condition; switches that loosely fit in sockets overheat and become a fire hazard. Switches that are warm to the touch, or are discolored indicate a heat buildup at these connections and should be checked thoroughly by a licensed electrician. Prevent electrical overloads as overloaded circuits are a major cause of residential fires. Lower this risk by not overloading your wall sockets or even your power strips.
Extension cord safety – Thousands of home fires begin in extension cords each year, killing many people and injuring many more. Extension cords can become damaged with extended use. They could overheat and become a fire hazard. Extension cords are only a temporary solution and should be removed after use. Nowadays, these are being replaced by safer multiple-outlet ‘appliance power bars’ that provide both overload protection and power surge protection.
Lighting fixtures and appliances – Appropriate wattage bulbs should be used in lamps and other lighting fixtures to prevent overheating and burning. Appliance cords need to be tucked away from heat sources which would melt and burn them. Electricity and water do not mix, so keep electrical appliances such as hairdryers and straighteners or hair curlers away from a wet sink or bathtub to avoid receiving an electric shock.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – properly functioning smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a home fire, so make sure that they are properly installed and routinely maintained.
Electrical Panel – Have a professional check that the circuit breaker sizes in your electrical panel are correct; the wrong size fuse can cause the wiring to overheat and become a fire hazard. Fuses and circuit breakers are safety devices that help stop overloading of your home electrical system.
Consider having standard breakers replaced with arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). AFCIs are advanced circuit breakers that provide greater electrical fire protection, and these should be tested regularly for workability if you have them installed.
There is always more that you can do to ensure your family is prepared to safely escape from a fire emergency. Be cautious, adopt preventive measures and stay safe in your home!