May is National Electrical Safety Month
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan wants to raise the public’s awareness about potential electrical home hazards and the importance of electrical safety. “Look around for electrical hazards in your home and correct them,” said State Fire Marshal Coan. “Items such as electrical cords under rugs or pinched behind furniture, overloaded outlets, and laptops and phones charging on beds or sofas can expose you and your family to fire,” he added.
Electrical fires continue to be one of the leading causes of residential structural fire deaths in Massachusetts. In 2012 four civilians died in electrical home fires. Lives can be saved through prevention.
Preventing Electrical Fires at Home
Fire officials offer the following tips to assist you in having a safe spring:
- Have a licensed electrician examine your electrical system every ten years. All electrical work should be done by a licensed electrician who has first obtained a permit when required. The permit process helps protect homeowners that the work is done correctly.
- Inspect all extension cords. Discard any that are cracked or frayed and replace with new ones having a certification label from an independent testing laboratory. Never nail a cord or wire to the wall.
- Cords should be used according to their ratings (indoor or outdoor use) and according to the power needs of the appliance that is being plugged in.
- When unplugging any cord, do so by grasping the plug end. Do not pull on the cord as this over time can cause the cord to fail.
- Make sure you have ground fault breakers installed in your bathroom and kitchen.
- Keep hot irons and curling irons out of reach of small children.
- When leaving laptop computers, iPads, and cell phones charging, have them on a solid surface such as a desk or countertop. Leaving them on a bed, couch or chair can cause them to overheat and catch the material on fire.
Potential Warning Signs and Hazards
“Call your local fire department immediately if you have warning signs such as arcs, sparks, or short circuits,” advises State Fire Marshal Coan. “Other warning signs include hearing a sizzling or buzzing sound and a vague smell of something burning. Immediate attention to these signs can save lives,” he added.
Call a professional electrician soon if you have any of these warning signs:
- Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers;
- Dim or flickering lights, bulbs that wear out too fast;
- Overheated plugs, cords or switches;
- Shock or mild tingle – more than normal static electricity;
- Loose plugs; or unusually warm or faulty outlets or switches.
Fire officials wish to remind consumers about the importance of home safety devices that provide safety enhancements without requiring major renovations. These devices include arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), and tamper resistant receptacles (TRRs).
For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 1-877-9 NO FIRE or on-line at www.state.ma.us/dfs and look for Fire Safety Topics.