Electrical fire major cause of home fires

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has kicked off National Electrical Safety Month in May by reminding the public to be aware of the risks associated with the use of electricity, and providing safety tips to assist individuals in taking steps to reduce the risk of experiencing a home electrical fire.

In recent years, an average of 53,000 home electrical fires have been reported per year. These fires resulted in an average of 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage per year. One of every seven home fires was an electrical fire.

Any type of equipment that uses electricity may be involved in an electrical fire. Some type of electrical distribution equipment such as wiring, light switches, outlets, cords, and plugs or lighting equipment was involved in roughly half of the home electrical fires. There are also many home electrical fires involving air conditioners, fans, clothes dryers and appliances.

NFPA offers the following safety tips:

*Replace or repair loose or damaged cords on all electrical devices.

*Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

*In homes with small children, unused wall sockets and extension-cord receptacles should have plastic safety covers.

*Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.

*Follow the manufacturers' instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.

*Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.

*If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.

*When possible, avoid the use of "cube taps" and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.

*Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp's recommended wattage.

Electrical fires tend to happen more frequently in older homes. Please take these safety measures to heart and comply with them for you and your family's home safety!