Five Easy Tips to Prevent Electrical Fires in Your Household
Today’s average household is a complex, power-hungry beast that houses electrical appliances, gadgets and a forest of wires and outlets that keep everything running. Technology has become a huge part of everyday life and taking it all away would probably make us feel like we’ve been zapped back to the Stone Age. This technology enables us to do more things in our lives than ever before, but there’s a price to pay for wielding that kind of power on a daily basis.
And with "price to pay", we’re not talking about your electric bill. Having a house loaded with gadgets and appliances comes with the responsibility of exercising safety precautions that will keep them from starting dangerous electrical fires.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the bedroom is the leading area of fire origin for residential building electrical fires because of the electronics and electrical equipment stored inside. The bedroom is also where people are most relaxed and more suspect to being negligent. However, electrical fires that begin in shared spaces like the living room result in the most deaths. Electrical fire is hard to detect because it can start with a spark or an overheated appliance near combustible materials and by the time that it has started it is usually too late.
Electrical fires are also notoriously hard to stop. Water can worsen it in some cases and it usually causes paralyzing panic that keeps people from acting rationally. The results are devastating to property and sometimes lethal to human life. The best way to fight electrical fires, of course, is to keep them from happening in the first place.
Here are some easy safety tips to prevent electrical fires in your household.
- Check your home for outdated wiring
- Do not plug anything in extension cords for a long period of time
- Keep appliances that generate heat away from materials that can easily catch fire
- Place appliances and electrical cords away from pets and children’s reach
- Use appliances approved by accredited consumer laboratories
Flickering lights, constant burning odors from your appliances, discolored wall outlets and breakers that trip frequently are signs that should alert you to call a licensed electrician to examine if the wiring in your house is up to Code. But even if you are not experiencing these signs, it’s ideal to have your home checked once every 5 years for any faulty or outdated wiring. This is especially true for houses that had been built 20 or more years ago. Back then, electricians could only imagine the electrical needs that your house wiring provides for your appliances today.
You want to put the television on the other end of the living room but the power outlet is in the opposite side? No problem: get an extension cord and you’re good to go.
However, you may have unintentionally created another problem if you leave the television plugged to that extension cord for extended periods of time. Extension cords are meant to be temporary solutions and weren’t designed to be a permanent part of your house wiring. Appliances should be plugged directly into power outlets. The misuse and abuse of extension cords has been known to trigger electrical fires due to overloads and insulation failures.
If you really need a power outlet in a part of the house that doesn't have one, it’s usually better to call in an electrician to have a new one installed there.
They don't have to be so far away, but make sure that appliances like TVs and desktop computers have enough room to cool down and for air to circulate. Don't place clothes or paper on top of hot-running appliances to avoid combustion over time.
When not in use and even for a short while, store appliances and unplug electrical cords in a place that kids and animals can’t access. There is a real danger of your pets chewing on electrical cords or children toppling over appliances. Don't hide your electrical cords under rugs to “solve” the problem. Over time, these cords may be frayed due to being constantly pressed down by heavy household furniture. When the cords get damaged, they produce sparks that can ignite the material above them.
Appliances without a seal of approval from Underwriters Laboratories or other accredited consumer testing organizations may save you a few bucks but destroy your home in the process. Make sure the appliances you buy are consumer safe products that comply with safety standards mandated by the government.
A fire is one of the worst things that can happen to a household. It burns away property, it can take lives, and it can leave psychological scars that last a lifetime. If you haven’t done it lately, get your home’s electrical system checked by proven service providers like Dalworth Restoration.