In 2010, about 46,500 fires in U.S. homes were due to electrical failure or malfunction according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires caused 420 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage.
However, there are steps you can take to prevent death, injury and property damage from electrical fires. Just remember the acronym F.I.R.E.
Find the source before a fire starts.
Old or faulty wiring is often the main cause for most electrical fires. However, plugs, receptacles, switches, and extension and appliance cords can also cause home fires.
Investigate the signs.
Look for the following fire hazard signs:
- Flickering lights.
- Recurring problems with blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.
- Discolored or warm wall outlets or light switches.
- Sparks coming from a wall outlet.
- Cracked or broken wall outlets.
- A burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance.
- Worn, old or damaged appliance cords.
- Appliances or electrical tools that overheat, cause small electrical shocks, or give off smoke or sparks.
Remedy the problem.
If you notice any of the above signs, contact a qualified electrician. Do not use the appliance or electrical tool until you have it checked out. Other precautions you can take include:
- Don’t overload outlets or extension cords.
- Use the correct wattage bulbs to prevent overheating lamp fixtures.
- Don’t use damaged cords. Don’t run cords under rugs or carpets or across doorways.
- Replace worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately. Don’t try to repair them.
- Consider installing arc fault circuit interrupters in your home. These are a type of circuit breaker that shuts off electricity when an arcing condition occurs.
- Buy only appliances that have been tested by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Don’t use appliances in wet areas.
- Routinely check appliances for signs of wear and tear or overheating.
- Use only three-slot outlets for appliances with three-prong plugs.
- Plug major and small appliances directly into wall outlets – never use an extension cord. Unplug small appliances when they’re not in use.
- Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection and have a label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Use extension cords for temporary use only. Contact a qualified electrician to determine if you need additional circuits or wall outlets.
- Have working smoke detectors installed in your home.
Exit your home and learn how to extinguish fires properly.
If an electrical fire breaks out in your home, call 911 immediately. Have everyone exit the building.
Learn the proper way to extinguish small fires.
- Never use water on an electrical fire. Instead of smothering a fire, water conducts electricity and may to lead to electrocution.
- If the circuit breaker doesn’t trip in the area of the fire, shut off the main breaker to the house, if possible. However, don’t approach the breaker if the fire is nearby. Plus make sure your hands are dry.
- Never use a Class A extinguisher on an electrical fire – use a Class C or a multi-purpose ABC model instead. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher available or you don’t know the class for the one you have, baking soda may help smother the flames.
Remember there are different types of fires and they’re not all treated the same. So protect yourself and your family from electrical fires by remembering F.I.R.E.
At Grandview Lending, we hope you never have to experience a home fire. You and your family’s safety are of utmost concern to us. And if you ever need a home loan, remember to give us a call. Our experienced mortgage specialists are here to help you with your home loan needs.