Electrical Safety

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U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 47,820 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.

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 Electrical Fire Safety
© 2014 Airhart Electric, Inc

There are ways to help protect your family for electrical fires. These tips can reduce the risk of an electrical fire:
  • Electrical work should be done only by a qualified electrician. Some communities require that a person doing electrical work have a license. Find out about the laws in your area
  • Call a qualified electrician if you have any of the following:
    o recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
    o a tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
    o discolored or warm wall outlets or switches
    o a burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance
    o flickering lights
    o sparks from a wall outlet
    o cracked or broken wall outlets
  • Have your home electrical system inspected by a qualified professional when buying, selling, or renovating a home 
  • Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, including furniture, bedding, curtains, clothing, and flammable or combustible gases and liquids
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture
  • If a fuse blows or a circuit breaker trips often, find out why and get the problem corrected before turning the breaker back on or replacing the fuse. Have a qualified electrician inspect and fix it
  • Always replace blown fuses with ones of the proper rating. If the problem continues, call an electrician
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord with a major appliance—it can easily overheat and start a fire
  • Small appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Unplug small appliances when not in use
  • Window air conditioners should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Many manufacturers of room air conditioners prohibit the use of extension cords. If the manufacturer’s instructions allow extension cords, follow the instructions for the proper type
  • Buy only appliances that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory
  • Check electrical cords often. Replace cracked, damaged, and loose electrical or extension cords. Do not try to repair them
  • Avoid putting cords where they can be damaged or pinched by furniture, under rugs and carpets, or across doorways
  • Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection. Use surge protectors or power strips that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. Have a qualified electrician determine if additional circuits or wall outlets are needed
  • Replace wall outlets if plugs do not fit snugly or the wall outlet does not accept plugs with one blade larger than the other
  • All wall outlets and switches should be covered with wall plates to prevent shocks
  • Install tamper-resistant electrical outlets if you have young children. Where replacement is not possible, install new protective outlet covers, which do not allow a child to insert an object into the wall outlet
  • Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) shut off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs. Have a qualified electrician install AFCIs in your home
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) reduce the risk of shock. GFCIs shut off electricity when it becomes a shock hazard. Make sure GFCIs are installed in bathrooms, basements, garages, outdoors, at kitchen counters, and in other locations in the home where electricity is near water
  • Test AFCIs and GFCIs once a month by pushing the test button to make sure they are working properly
  • Keep ladders at least 10 feet (3 meters) away from overhead power lines. Use wooden or fiberglass ladders outdoors
  • Never touch a power line. You could be injured or electrocuted. Assume that all power lines are live. Stay at a safe distance
  • Never touch anyone or anything in contact with a downed wire. You could be injured or electrocuted
  • Report downed power lines to authorities
  • Some power lines are underground. Call your local authority to have lines identified and marked before digging. You can also call the national 8-1-1 “Call before you dig” number
(Information provided in part courtesy of NFPA© 2013)