Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 310 Americans each year and injure 1,100 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures, but many more are caused by incorrectly installed wiring and overloaded circuits and extension cords.
Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 28,600 fires and $1.1 billion in property losses. 53% of residential electrical fires involve electrical wiring.
December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating, and appliance use. The bedroom is the leading area of fire origin for residential building electrical fires. However, electrical fires that begin in the living room/family room/den areas result in the most deaths.
Most electrical distribution fires result from problems with "fixed wiring" such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords (such as extension and appliance cords), plugs, receptacles, and switches also cause many home electrical fires.
Light fixtures and lamps/light bulbs are also leading causes of electrical fires.
Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance, and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.
Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons, and hair dryers.
Keep clothes, curtains, and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.