Electrical fires in the home account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, nearly $1.3 billion in property damage, 1,400 injuries, and nearly 500 deaths. We want to ensure that you aren’t included in those numbers. You can take preventative measures to keep your home and your loved ones safe.
Do you have Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupting breakers or AFCIs?
An AFCI is a type of circuit breaker that detects and protects against electrical arcs, which can become hot enough to cause house fires (check our last blog for more information on arcs). These breakers have been required in homes since about 2002, but if you have an older home that hasn’t been renovated you may not have them.
Have you tested your AFCIs?
You should try to test your AFCIs monthly. When the power is on and the breaker switch is in the ON position, find and press the AFCI Test button. The AFCI should trip, causing the switch to move to either the OFF or TRIP position, depending on your breaker. If it trips, your AFCI is working! Turn it off and on again to reset, and don’t forget to test it again next month. However, if the AFCI doesn’t trip, contact our licensed electricians at Coffin Electric to replace it.
Are all circuit breakers the proper size?
The size of your breakers and fuses varies from home to home. For a circuit breaker, the size is the maximum current that can go through it without tripping the circuit, which would result in a loss of power. So, the breaker that controls the circuit should be 125% of the continuous load,
(which is the maximum current expected to last three or more hours) and 100% of the non continuous load (which are shorter bursts of power).
Are you using the correct bulb for each appliance?
Believe it or not, there are right and wrong light bulbs for each of your electrical appliances. If the wrong bulb is used, it could potentially start a fire–like a higher wattage bulb on a lamp that uses a lower wattage. Always compare wattages from your bulb to your appliance.
How do you use space heaters?
There are a lot of rules for space heaters, but it’s easy to slip up and forget when you’re trying to warm up. Keep flammable items at least 3 feet away from your space heater (or any other heat source) and place it on a level, flat surface on the ground. Make Finally, never leave your
space heater unattended and don’t forget to turn it off when you go to bed!
Are your cords damaged?
Make sure your cords are all in good condition. Watch out for frays, cracks, pinches, and punctures. Damaged cords are dangerous, putting you at risk not only for electrical fires, but electrocution too.
How often do you use extension cords
As convenient as they are, it’s important to know that extension cords are not intended to be used as a permanent wiring solution, only temporary. If you’re relying on extension cords daily, that is an indication that your home electrical system needs upgrading as you have too few outlets to address your needs, you should have new outlets installed where you need them. When used improperly, plugging them into one another, covering cords from airflow, or relying on them for permanent wiring, extension cords can overheat and cause fires.
These are the first steps in practicing fire safety in your home. For the crucial final two steps, check back with us next week!