The list of New Year’s Resolutions you made (and may still be keeping) probably did not include what the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) says should be a high priority item: being electrically safe in 2013.
In the United States, home electrical problems account for more than 51,000 fires each year, resulting in more than 490 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Winter brings also leads to the increased use of electrical products, making people more susceptible to electrical fires, electrocutions and injuries. Luckily, there are simple precautions that can be taken to help prevent electrical fires and keep families safe throughout 2013 and beyond.
“People make New Year’s resolutions with the hopes of improving their quality of life, and there is no better way to do that than by making sure their homes are free of electrical hazards that can be dangerous, even fatal,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “The first step for an electrically safe 2013 begins with the safe removal of holiday decorations and continues with the proper usage of home heating and other electrical equipment.”
Establish an electrically safe start to 2013 with these tips from ESFI:
- Take down and put away all electrical decorations and lights at the beginning of January. Check for frayed wires, cracked sockets, or burned out bulbs. Discard broken or faulty lights.
- Make sure that electrical cords are in good condition. Inspect for frayed wires and cracked insulation.
- Separate and label indoor and outdoor decorations. Store them in a dry location that is safely out of reach of children and pets.
- Send warranty and product registration forms for new decorations to manufacturers in order to be notified about product recalls.
- Remove and properly dispose of Christmas trees. The best way to dispose of a tree is to bring it to a recycling center or contact a community pickup service.
- Keep your home safe throughout the year by learning the basics of how home heating and electrical systems work, and making sure they are properly maintained with these tips from ESFI:
- Always have a qualified, licensed professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer instructions.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area. Smoke alarms should also be installed inside every bedroom.
- Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually by a licensed, qualified professional.
- Be sure circuit breakers and fuses are correctly labeled with their amperage and the rooms, circuits, or outlets they service.
- Consider having a qualified, licensed electrician replace your standard circuit breakers with combination-type arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), which provide enhanced electrical fire protection.
- Make sure ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are installed in your kitchen, bathrooms, workshop, basement, garage, outdoors, and any other areas where water and electricity are likely to come in contact.
- Examine electrical outlets and replace missing or broken wall plates to ensure that wiring and components are not exposed.
- Childproof your home by installing tamper resistant receptacles (TRRs), which provide a simple, permanent solution to help prevent childhood shock and burn injuries from tampering with a wall outlet.