Electricity and Heat

Electricity

Electrical distribution equipment poses serious fire safety threats that can even be fatal, especially when equipment is used incorrectly.

IMPORTANT REMINDER

  • Call a qualified electrician or your landlord if you have 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

 




 

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Electrical Safety Basics

  • Protect electrical outlets with plastic safety covers if small children are present in your home
  • Never operate electrical appliances around bathtubs, showers, or puddles of standing water
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection when working where water is near electricity, to protect against electric shock … This means you should use GFCIs in your kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, and outdoor locations
  • Replace or repair frayed, loose, or otherwise damaged cords on all electronics
  • Shut off the circuit and have it checked by an electrician if any switches feel warm
  • Take note of any discolored switch plates, because discoloration could indicate that the electrical wiring behind the switch plate is overheating
  • Remember: symptoms of potential wiring problems include household lights that dim or flicker, a TV picture that shrinks in size, frequent blown fuses, or circuit breakers that trip frequently
  • Place lamps on level surfaces, away from flammable items, and use light bulbs that match the lamps’ recommended wattages

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Extension Cords and Surge Suppressers

  • Never use an extension cord as a replacement for permanent wiring
  • Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets
  • Make sure power strips and surge suppressors are designed to handle the loads you will be using them for
  • Connect power strips and surge protectors directly into a wall outlet. Do not connect multiple power strips or surge protectors together
  • Avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet
  • Avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle, and try to only plug one high-wattage item into each outlet

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Halogen Lighting

  • Avoid using halogen lamps whenever possible since they operate at much higher temperatures than normal light bulbs
  • If you use halogen lamps, make sure the lamp is placed in a location where it cannot come into contact with drapes, clothing, or other combustible materials
  • Keep halogen lamps and cords away from high-traffic areas and turn lamps off when leaving the room for an extended period of time

 

Heating Safety

Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the winter months, and the second leading cause of home fires annually. Heating equipment includes fireplaces, wood stoves, portable space heaters, and fixed space heaters. Nearly half of all deaths attributed to home heating equipment fires involve portable space heaters. Follow the below tips, and read more about heating safety.

Heating Basics

  • Have all heating equipment in your home inspected annually by a licensed professional
  • Make sure all gas-fueled and wood-burning heating devices are vented to the exterior of the building
  • Consider installing a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside of each bedroom if gas-fueled or wood-burning appliances are used in your home

Fireplaces and Wood-burning Stoves

  • Have wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected and cleaned on a periodic basis
  • Use properly seasoned wood to reduce creosote build-up in fireplaces and stoves
  • Protect fireplaces with a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room
  • Allow ashes to cool before removing them from a fireplace or stove
  • Dispose of ashes in a metal container

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Space Heaters

  • Maintain a 36 inch clearance between space heaters and combustible items
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep

 

Laundry

Laundry equipment is often overlooked when addressing the issue of home fire safety. However, laundry appliances pose a serious fire risk because they involve electricity, and the combination of combustible clothing and extremely hot temperatures. The vast majority of laundry fires are caused by dryers that are not cleaned properly.

Dryer Safety Basics

  • Have dryers installed and serviced by a competent professional
  • Have gas-powered washers and dryers inspected periodically by a professional to ensure the gas line and its connection are intact
  • Make sure that the dryer is plugged into an outlet that meets its electrical needs, so it doesn’t overload the outlet and trip circuit breakers or blow fuses
  • Keep the area around the dryer clear of boxes, clothing, and other combustibles
  • Turn the dryer off when leaving home

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Lint Filters

  • Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter
  • Clean lint filters before or after each use, and remove any lint from around the dryer drum
  • Make sure the dryer exhausts into the exterior or into a listed water trap
  • Inspect the area around the dryer for accumulations of lint, paying special attention to the area behind the dryer, and remove any lint you notice
  • Inspect the flexible exhaust duct (if your dryer has one), and remove lint accumulations on a periodic basis

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