Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins encourages citizens of the importance of electrical safety after the recent fire in a home that was a direct result of an electrical malfunction which led to the death of homeowner. An additional factor that contributed to the fire was the improper use of extension cords.
According to NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) statistics, an annual average of nearly 48,000 electrical fires occurred in U.S. homes between 2007 and 2011, resulting in 455 deaths, more than 1,500 injuries and $1.48 billion in direct property damage. Roughly half of those fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment.
As these numbers are alarming, Chief Jenkins states “fortunately, there are many simple steps citizens can take to greatly reduce those risks, such as using the designated light bulb wattage for lamps and not overloading outlets.”
The Columbia Fire Department suggests following these safety tips:
•Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician.
•Only plug one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) into a receptacle outlet at a time.
•Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are a kind of circuit breaker that shuts off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs. Consider having them installed in your home. Use a qualified electrician.
•Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of shock. GFCIs shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard. They should be installed inside the home in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and basements. All outdoor receptacles should be GFCI-protected.
•Test AFCIs and GFCIs once a month to make sure they’re working properly.
•Check electrical cords to make sure they’re not running across doorways or under carpets.
•Extension cords are intended for temporary use; have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets so you don’t overtask extension cords.
•Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture. There should be a sticker that indicates the maximum wattage light bulb to use.