Protect your home against electrical fires

WISH File Photo
WISH File Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Electrical fires account for more than 50,000 fires each year, according to experts. As May is National Electrical Safety Month, it’s time to raise awareness of potential home hazards and the importance of electrical safety.

Home electrical fires account for more than 50,000 fires each year and $1.3 billion in property damage, reports the Electrical Safety Foundation International. ESFI said it’s also blamed for nearly 500 deaths and more than 1,400 injuries.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, arc-faults are a major cause of electrical failure resulting in fire. An arc-fault is the flow of electricity over an unintended path.

Arcs can exceed temperatures of 7,000° F and can arise from damaged wires, loose electrical connections or worn electrical insulation. They can begin behind a home’s walls, which makes them difficult to detect without AFCI protection.

New requirements of the National Electrical Code helps prevent fires due to arc-faults. The NEC requires AFCI protection be installed when replacing home electrical outlets. It provides an important means in helping to prevent electrical fires, particularly in older homes which have a higher percentage of these fires.

The NEC codes require AFCI protection in many areas throughout the home, including kitchens, laundry rooms, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sun- rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways and similar rooms or areas. They are also required in dormitories.

Here are some electrical safety tips, provided by NFPA, to help keep you and your family safe.

  • Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.
  • Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
  • In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant receptacles.
  • Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician, so you do not have to use extension cords.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s 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, frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuits, or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.
  • Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage.
  • Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, basement and outdoor areas.
  • Arc-fault circuit interrupters, or AFCIs, should be installed in your home to protect electrical outlets.
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