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Preventing Electrical Fires In the Home

Every year fire departments in the U.S. respond to approximately 45,000 home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. These fires result in hundreds of deaths and injuries and and $1.6 billion in property damage.

So how do you keep your home safe from the dangers of electrical fires? We’ve put together a list of warning signs that could indicate an electrical malfunction.

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet

Before electrical problems become a hazard we recommend following these safety steps in the home.

  1. Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.
  2. Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
  3. In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles.
  4. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
  6. Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
  7. If outlets or switches feel warm, frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuits, or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.
  8. Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage.
  9. Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in the kitchen bathroom(s), laundry, basement, and outdoor areas.
  10. Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) should be installed in your home to protect electrical outlets.
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