How to Prevent Electrical Fires

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Almost 30,000 electrical fires occur in homes every year. Nearly all of these could have been prevented by early detection and care of electrical equipment and wiring. Electrical fires are most commonly caused by just a few culprits. Today, we’re going to consider them and how we can protect ourselves and families from potential harm.

Wiring issues

Misuse of wiring is more common today than it was in the past because we are a much more electronically geared society. Our abundance of electrical devices has raised the risk in homes which were built in a time when people never dreamed they’d own more than one television set. Since many times all of the residents of the home are away during a good portion of the day, and electrical wiring fire can go undetected for hours.

Make sure your wiring isn’t dated and the circuit breaker box is equipped to deal with your electronics usage. Have an electrician or contractor rewire the home and add breakers if necessary, and use Afci if needed.

It is also crucial for homes with two-prong outlets to be retrofitted with three-prong outlets. Three-prong outlets are such a basic standard of electrical safety, no home should be without them. 

Food preparation

Grease fires often start when a pan full of oil is left on a too-hot burner or left unattended. A grease fire can be snuffed out by using the lid of the pan to smother it. Do NOT attempt to move the pan anywhere, as this can result in spilled grease, which can then spread uncontained. Likewise, water or any other liquid will jump the fire out of the pan. 

 Never leave anything on a burner left unattended.

Never leave anything on a burner left unattended.

Heating appliances

That cozy electric blanket that belonged to your grandmother has lived past its useful life, even if you’ve taken marvelous care of it. The shelf life of an electric blanket is ten years. After that, throw it away even if it appears to be in beautiful shape. The cords of these blankets, as well as heating pads and space heaters, can become frayed or damaged. 

Space heaters can be prone to tipping or being knocked over by exuberant children or pets, and senior citizens who require walking aids. Since they are made to heat specifically tiny areas, the surrounding materials such as bedding, clothing, and other flammable materials, can inadvertently catch on fire.  

Using appliances and extension cords incorrectly

Appliance makers have long known about the fire dangers of their products. For example, the iron or toaster which seems to have an inordinately short cord was never meant to be used with an extension cord because of the potential for tripping. However, these appliances also present other dangers; a  toaster, for example, should always be pulled out and away from any materials made of wood before use. Irons should only be used with a fire-resistant pad and never be left unattended. 

Lighting always comes with a recommended wattage maximum, which should be adhered to in order to avoid overloading the wiring.  

And last, but not least, extension cords are a short-term solution and should never be hidden beneath a carpet, rug, or another item where it can become worn and frayed. 
 

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