How to avoid electrical fires

by Jennifer Sierra

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.24.25 PM Seems like the fire trucks are always running in Bellevue and Dayton, Kentucky. With the approaching holidays that people most often decorate for like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, electrical fires happen often and here is how to avoid them:

Electrical outlets– Check for loose-fitting plugs, which can be a shock or fire hazard. Replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed. If you have young children in the home, check that unused outlets are covered.

Plugs– Never force them into outlets. Don’t remove the ground pin (third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet. Avoid overloading outlets with adapters and too many appliance plugs.Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 2.23.45 PM

Cords– Make sure they are not frayed or cracked, placed under carpets or rugs, or placed in high traffic areas. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors or other objects.

Extension cords– Use them on a temporary basis only. They are not intended as permanent household wiring. Make sure they have safety closures to protect young children from shock and mouth burn injuries.

Light bulbs– Check the wattage to make sure light bulbs match the fixture requirements. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage ratings than recommended on the fixture. Make sure they are screwed in securely so they don’t overheat.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – Make sure GFCIs are installed in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry, workshop, basement and garage as well as on the outdoor outlets. Test them monthly to ensure they’re working properly.

Circuit breakers/Fuses– Fuses should be properly rated for the circuit they are protecting. If you don’t know the correct rating, have an electrician identify and label the correct size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same size you are removing. Check that circuit breakers are working properly.

Appliances/Electronics– If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Look for cracks or damage in wiring and connectors. Use surge protectors to protect expensive electronics.

Electrical wiring– Wiring defects are a major cause of residential fires. Check periodically for loose wall receptacles. Loose wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that spark and flicker.

Service capacity– As you continue to upgrade your home with more lighting, appliances and electronics, your home’s electrical service capacity may become overburdened. If fuses blow or trip frequently, you may need to increase the capacity of your electrical service or add new branch circuits. A qualified, licensed electrician can determine the appropriate service requirements for your home.

According to the F.D.B.D. Chief Mike Auteri, “This is a common approach to fire safety and electrical fire safety.  We seldom see residential fires due to the age of the structure or it’s wiring, It’s mostly  due to occupants trying to upgrade their service themselves, or using to many appliances at once in our older structures.  We also see  fair amount of fires due to careless smoking.”

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