National Electrical Fire Safety Month
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 47,700 home fires in the U.S. are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions each year. These fires result in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage. Focusing on preventing electrical fires is why the Electrical Safety Foundation International celebrates April as National Electrical Fire Safety Month.
At Tashman Home Center we also care about the safety of our clients and our community and commend the idea of celebrating a month of electrical fire safety. So here are five tips on how to prevent electrical fires in your home and one tip on what to do to help prepare you home and family should you ever have a fire.
1. Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets (known more commonly as GFCI outlets) are most commonly seen in rooms of the home with a high moisture content, like in the bathroom and kitchen. GFCI outlets monitor the amount of electricity flowing out of and in to the outlet. If the electricity flowing in and out of the outlet becomes unbalanced, then the outlet shuts down. The idea behind this design is that electricity that doesn’t complete the circuit is probably doing something it shouldn’t (like electrocuting a human being). GFCI outlets save lives and prevent fires.
2. Install an Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter
An arc fault occurs when electricity jumps from one part of an exposed wire to another part of the wire. Arc faults occur when the sheathing around a wire has been stripped bare. This problem commonly occurs in older homes, but can occur in newer homes if pests or home improvements have caused damage to the wiring. Arc faults can cause fires by igniting the wood or insulation in the walls. Arc fault interrupters monitor your home’s electrical system and shut down circuits when faults are detected.
3. Use Power Strips with Surge Protection
Surge protectors prevent power surges from causing fires. In the event that your home is affected by a surge of electricity, a power strip with surge protector will prevent your appliances and particularly your electronic items like computers, video players, televisions and music systems from overloading. Not all power strips have surge protection, so read the product labels carefully when purchasing power strips for your home.
4. Avoid Circuit Overload
Older properties are vulnerable to circuit overloads for a variety of reasons. Some of the common problems that plague older properties include:
- Not enough electrical service. Many older homes have inadequate electrical service, which can cause circuits to trip and may even result in electrical overload if the electrical panel isn’t working properly.
- Fuse box problems. Fuse boxes were the circuit breakers date from the mid-20th century. Some of them still work well, but many fuse boxes now face problems and can be a fire hazard.
If you own an older home, have your electrical panel (whether it’s a fuse box or a circuit breaker box) inspected by a certified electrician. The electrician can tell you whether or not your electrical panel is safe and if not, what needs to be done to fix it.
5. Eliminate “Permanent” Extension Cords
Extension cords are supposed to be for temporary use, but many people use extension cords as a permanent fixture in their home. Extension cords are not designed for this purpose, and lack some of the safety features of surge protectors. To be safe, you can either swap your extension cords for surge protectors, or have a certified electrician install more outlets in your home.
6. Know What to Do in the Event of a Fire
Aside from the above suggestions, the best way that you can protect your family from electrical fires is to have a plan for evacuation. Talk to your family or members of your household about their escape routes in the event of electrical fire. Hold fire drills regularly to be sure that everyone knows where to go.
Finally, remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors on a regular basis. If your home doesn’t have enough smoke detectors, then it’s time to buy some.
Tashman Hardware – Your Fire Safety Headquarters
At Tashman Home Center, we have what you need for your electrical safety needs, including batteries, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, GFCI outlets and many other goodies. Your can either stop by Tashman Home Center (7769 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046) or shop for your fire safety needs online at TashmanHomeCenter.com. And, if you need advice on what to get, we have an experienced and knowledgable staff and we’d be happy to help you with any of your questions regarding electrical fire safety.
For More Electrical Fire Safety Information
To find out more about Electrical Safety Foundation International’s events and about electrical fire safety in general, you can take a look at the website that they’ve dedicated to National Electrical Fire Safety month. Their website is loaded with valuable information like workplace safety, seasonal electrical safety, kid safety and other important topics.