May is National Electrical Safety Month and E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety wants to raise the public’s awareness about potential electrical home hazards and the importance of electrical safety. Practicing fire safety is especially important with more people staying home during Michigan’s Stay Home-Stay Safe executive order. Home fires have claimed the lives of 57 Michiganders since January 1st (a 46% increase over the same period – Jan 1 – May 1, 2019).
Look around for electrical hazards in your home and correct them. Items such as electrical cords under rugs or pinched behind furniture, overloaded outlets, and laptops and phones charging on beds or sofas can expose you and your family to the risk of fire.
According to the United States Fire Administration, electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) research indicates there are approximately 45,000 home electrical fires each year throughout the United States. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Half of all home electrical fires involve lighting equipment or home electrical wiring and most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom. Home electrical fire deaths peak between midnight and 8:00 a.m.
The following are tips to assist you in preventing electrical fires:
- Have a licensed electrician examine your electrical system every ten years. All electrical work should be done by a licensed electrician who has first obtained a permit when required. The permit process helps protect homeowners that the work is done correctly.
- Inspect all extension cords. Discard any that are cracked or frayed and replace with new ones having a certification label from an independent testing laboratory. Never nail a cord or wire to the wall.
- Cords should be used according to their ratings (indoor or outdoor use) and according to the power needs of the appliance that is being plugged in.
- When unplugging any cord, do so by grasping the plug end. Do not pull on the cord as this over time can cause the cord to fail.
- Make sure you have ground fault breakers installed in your bathroom and kitchen.
- Keep hot irons and curling irons out of reach of small children.
- When leaving laptop computers, iPads, and cell phones charging, have them on a solid surface such as a desk or countertop. Leaving them on a bed, couch or chair can cause them to overheat and catch the material on fire.
Potential Warning Signs and Hazards
Call your local fire department immediately if you have warning signs such as arcs, sparks, or short circuits. Other warning signs include hearing a sizzling or buzzing sound or a light smell of something burning. Immediate attention to these signs can save lives.
Call a professional electrician soon if you have any of these warning signs:
- Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers;
- Dim or flickering lights, bulbs that wear out too fast;
- Overheated plugs, cords or switches;
- Shock or mild tingle – more than normal static electricity;
- Loose plugs; or unusually warm or faulty outlets or switches.
Everyone in your family should practice fire safety everyday because Fire Is Everyone’s Fight® Where You Live!