It’s no surprise that the winter months bring an increased potential for fire risks and electrical safety hazards. This makes sense because consumers use additional electrical devices and appliances during the coldest months, like space heaters, electric blankets, and portable generators.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 47,700 home fires occur each year in the U.S. due to electrical failure or malfunction, which results in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage annually. This winter, safeguard your loved ones and your home with these electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
Don’t overload outlets. Overloaded outlets are a major cause of residential fires. Avoid using extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliance connections––plug appliances directly into a wall outlet. If you’re relying heavily on extension cords in general, you may need additional outlets to address your needs. Contact a qualified electrician to inspect your home and add new outlets.
Never leave space heaters unattended. If you’re using a space heater, turn it off before leaving the room. Make sure to place heaters at least three feet away from flammable items. Space heaters can take a toll on your energy bills. If you’re using them throughout your home, it may be time to upgrade your home heating system. Check out JOEMC’s Home Energy Calculators (and see what your space heater is costing you to run) by clicking here.
Inspect heating pads and electric blankets. These items cause nearly 500 fires every year. Electric blankets that are morethan ten years old create additional risks for a fire hazard. Inspect your electric blankets and heating pads – look for dark, charred, or frayed spots, and make sure the electrical cord is not damaged. Please do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, and never fold them when in use.
Use portable generators safely. Unfortunately, winter storms can cause prolonged power outages, which means many consumers will use portable generators to power their homes. Never connect a standby generator to your home’s electrical system. For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator first, before you plug-in appliances. Run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home. The carbon monoxide it generates is deadly, so keep it away from your garage, doors, windows, and vents. For more on generator safety click here.