Electrical failure or malfunctions account for more than 45,000 home fires per year and result in 420 deaths, 1,370 injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage per year according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). To help reduce your risk of electrical fires, keeping you and your family safe, follow these simple safety tips.
Start with an inspection
The electrical system in your home may need to be rewired if your home is more than 40 years old, you’ve made major home improvements or added major new appliances, if your home has two-prong outlets, you frequently trip breakers or blow fuses, or if your home has aluminum instead of copper wiring. Even if none of these situations apply to you, you can’t go wrong with an expert electrical inspection.
Don’t overload your outlets
Overloading is a common cause of electrical fires. This happens when you plug too many appliances into the same outlet using an extension cord or power splitter. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends buying power strips equipped with internal surge protection. This ensures that a strip shuts off as soon as it becomes overloaded. Keep in mind that strips and extension cords are a temporary solution, not a permanent one.
Don’t DIY It
If you want turn off the electricity to your home, and install dimmer switches or replace an old ceiling fan, go right ahead. However, when it comes to installing additional outlets or rewiring your home, always contact a qualified electrician. DIY electrical work is not advisable because of the potential for danger: electrical shock or fire. All aspects of electrical work are governed by very strict codes.
Additional Safety Tips
- Install smoke detectors on each level of the home, and inside each bedroom
- Test smoke detectors monthly to ensure that they are working properly
- Establish an emergency evacuation plan, and practice with your family
- In homes with small children, install tamper resistant receptacles
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the fixture
- Ask a qualified electrician if your home would benefit from Arc-Fault protection
- Never use extension cords to power major appliances, always plug into an outlet
- Have a qualified electrician add outlets to reduce your use of extension cords