Since the U.S. electricity consumption totaled nearly 3,831 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2013, it’s safe to say electrical power is an essential part of everyday life.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we rely on electrical power to charge our phones and laptops, brew our cup of coffee each morning, wash and dry our clothes, cook our meals, heat and cool homes and businesses, light up rooms or offices, and many other ways. Electrical power keeps us connected and energized to accomplish all that we have to do.
But with all the benefits electrical power offers to our lives, there also comes a responsibility that must be taken seriously to avoid injury or possible disaster. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, about 51,000 fires in the home can be attributed to electrical fires. These fires result in almost 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and about $1.3 billion in property damage. Being careless with electrical power has serious consequences!
To reduce the risk for electrical fires in the home, the experts at Rainbow International recommend the following safety measures in the home or business:
- Inspect your home or business for loose wires, shorts, and faulty wiring that increase the risk for potential electrical fires. Have issues fixed by a qualified electrician. Use safety covers on all outlets accessible to children.
- Install a smoke detector on every level of your home and as required for your business. Also, make sure the smoke detectors are working properly by testing them every month.
- Shut off all electrical equipment that produces odd sounds, smells or sparks. If you have had water damage on your property, be sure to have all electrical appliances that got wet inspected by a professional electrical appliance expert. Avoid turning them on or plugging them in until you know they are safe. Water damaged electrical equipment can be very dangerous.
- Use safe cord practices in the home or office. Repair or replace loose, frayed, or cracked cords. Never place cords in high traffic areas, under carpets or rugs, or nail or staple cords to surfaces. Consider having additional outlets installed by an electrician; avoid using extension cords long-term.
- Place the correct wattage light bulbs in all fixtures. If the wattage is higher than the requirement, replace them immediately. Secure light bulbs in the socket to ensure they don’t overheat.
- Use caution when spring-cleaning. If you will be using ladders, painting, pruning, or cleaning near a service meter or electrical lines — where the wiring comes into a house or building – exercise caution or let the professionals do this work.
- Use surge protectors to protect appliances. If you have an appliance that blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given you an electrical shock, unplug it immediately and have it repaired or replaced.
- Store flammables away from electrical appliances. Establish a safe, designated area for flammable chemicals in your home. Keep areas around electrical equipment clear of combustibles such as sawdust, paper, cardboard and flammable liquids.
- Reduce the chances for electrical fire by installing an ark fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) in your home. An AFCI can reduce the risk of an electrical fire by monitoring a circuit for the presence of “normal” and “dangerous” arcing conditions. For more information on AFCI safety, click here.
- Avoid using electrical power tools outdoors when the area is wet. Always wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes when working with electrical appliances outdoors and never operate electrical equipment when barefoot.
- Never allow children to climb trees that are near power lines. Also, keep balloons, kites, fishing lines, aluminum poles, and other items away from overhead lines to lessen risk of electrical-related injuries.
Review this electrical fire safety checklist from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to help prevent electrical fires in your home or business:
- Do you have enough smoke alarms?
- Are they working?
- Do you test them?
Switches and Outlets
- Are they working?
- Do they make crackling, buzzing, or sizzling sounds?
- Are they warm to the touch?
- Do plugs fit snugly?
- Is there fraying or cracking?
- Are they pinched or pierced?
- Do you use extension cords all the time?
- Are cords getting enough air?
Lamps and Appliances
- Are you using the right bulbs?
- Do you use space heaters safely?
- Are appliance cords protected from damage?
- Do you have AFCIs?
- Have you tested your AFCIs?
- Are all circuit breakers and fuses the proper size?
To download the checklist, go to ESFI Electrical Fire Safety Checklist.
Prevention is the key to protecting your family and home from the dangers and disaster of electrical shock or fires. If your property is damaged by fire, you can count on the experts at Rainbow International to help you with your fire restoration needs.