Stepping outside of Erie, PA and going to a nationwide scale, electrical fires account for more than 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and 1.3 billion in property damages each year in the United States. What is unfortunate about these numbers is that most of these incidences could have been prevented if basic safety measures had been taken prior. And the more prominent part is that many of these measures can be done without an emergency electrical service professional present or any additional equipment. So, if you are someone looking to optimize your home and reduce your risk of electrical fires to avoid being a part of those adverse statistics above, here are some fundamental anti-fire practices you can do right now to keep you, your family, and your home as safe as possible.
Flammable Objects and Electrical Outlets
Electrical contractors in Erie, PA agree that all furniture, decorations, curtains, blankets, and similar flammable items should be kept away from electrical outlets at all times. When an electrical device is plugged into an outlet, it generates a measurable amount of heat that is exacerbated if overloaded. This is when sparks begin to fly and can ignite those vulnerable objects. If one spark catches, your entire home can go up in flames within minutes, making it too large for a fire extinguisher to handle if you cannot get to it in time. With that being said, check your outlets regularly to see if there is any noticeable heat. And if there is, a professional electrician should be called to address the issue.
Avoid Overloading Outlets
Dovetailing from the first safety measure, ensuring that your outlets are not faulty or overloaded. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failures were responsible for about 13% of house fires from 2012-2016, making it the second leading contributing factor of fires caused by unattended equipment. Each outlet’s circuit is designed for a certain level of electricity, and that level should never be exceeded. Understand which outlets are connected to a specific circuit and be conscious of what is plugged in.
For example, do not plug two air conditioners into one 15amp circuit along with an iPhone to charge as this is an example of overload. One way to avoid plugging too many items into a single circuit is to reduce the use of power strips and extension cords. You can also use surge protectors with an internal circuit breaker that kills the power if a safe threshold is exceeded.
GFCI Outlets Near Water
According to the US National Electric Code (NEC), outlets in basements, near sinks, and tubs, all must have “Test” and “Reset” buttons present. These are called “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter” (GFCI) outlets. Such features are designed to kill the flow of electricity if water or moisture is sensed, and they are incredibly sensitive, given how conductive water is via its charged ions. Furthermore, any outlets near a water source, in a basement, or in a crawlspace must be GFCI to prevent fires caused by moisture contacting the electrical source.
Appliance Best Practices
Referring back to overloading circuits, electronic appliances and devices draw power regardless of whether they are on or off. The average household has 50 electronic devices plugged in drawing power at any given time, which raises concerns about older appliances that may have frayed electrical wires and deteriorated internal components. Smartphones and low power devices are not as much of a concern as space heaters and air conditioners, which can be fire hazards if left unattended. All appliances should be inspected for any of these flaws to determine if they are a hazard.
In summary, there are many ways you can ensure that your home is as protected as possible against electrical fires. For instance, being mindful of not overloading circuits with plugged-in electronics, utilizing surge protectors with internal circuit breakers, and replacing old appliances are the most effective ways to reduce electrical fire hazards. And to be even more secure, make sure to schedule a regular safety inspection with a licensed 24-hour electrician here in Erie, PA so you can have a professional eye look everything over as well. They may be able to seek out problem areas you may not have been aware of and allow you to remediate accordingly.
Overall, the cost of an inspection is far less than what a fire could surface in damages. And opting for one, in conjunction with incorporating the best practices listed above, will all give you the solidifying confidence that you and your family are living in the safest possible environment.