Reduce fire risk by practicing electrical safety in your home | State Fire Marshal

  • Thursday, November 17, 2016 4:49pm
  • Opinion

The following is from the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office:

With colder weather coming on, you may be thinking about digging out that electric blanket or space heater, but you may want to consider a few safety precautions first.

“Don’t take shortcuts with your safety,” says State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy. “Fires caused by electricity are a leading cause of home fire deaths in Washington State and account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in property loss, year after year.”

The risk of having a home electrical fire is greater when energy consumption is increased in the home. Practicing electrical safety in your home could mean the difference between life and death. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests the following safety tips to help ensure that you and your family are safe from shock hazards and electrical fires.

Appliances

  • Always plug major appliances, like refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, directly into a wall outlet.
  • Never use an extension cord with a major appliance — it can easily overheat and start a fire.
  • Always plug small appliances directly into a wall outlet.
  • Unplug small appliances when you are not using them.
  • Keep lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs away from anything that can burn.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
  • Check electrical cords on appliances often. Replace cracked, damaged and loose electrical cords. Do not try to repair them.

Outlets

  • Do not overload wall outlets.
  • Insert plugs fully into sockets.
  • Never force a three-prong cord into a two-slot outlet.
  • Install tamper-resistant electrical outlets if you have young children.

Extension Cords, Power Strips and Surge Protectors

  • Replace worn, old or damaged extension cords right away.
  • Use extension cords for temporary purposes only.
  • Avoid putting cords where they can be damaged or pinched, like under a carpet or rug.
  • Do not overload power strips.
  • Use power strips that have internal overload protection.

Safety in the Home

  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom, sleeping area, and on every level of your home.
  • Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.
  • Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
  • Have an ABC rated fire extinguisher in an accessible location.

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Don C. Brunell is a regional columnist.