In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G), New Jersey’s largest utility, offers tips on how to be safe and prevent fires when using electricity. Electrical malfunctions or misuse can cause fires in wiring, cords, lighting and any other type of equipment that uses electricity.
Electrical fires are all too common. The National Fire Prevention Association indicates U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 47,000 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction in 2014. These fires resulted in 520 deaths, 1,250 injuries and $1.4 billion in direct property damage. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in one of every five (20 percent) of home fires.
Ten safety tips to prevent electrical fires:
1. Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.
2. Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
3. In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant receptacles.
4. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
6. Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance — like space heaters, air conditioners and clothes dryers — into each receptacle outlet at a time.
7. If you have outlets or switches that feel warm, frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuits, or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.
8. Place lamps on level surfaces, away from materials that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage.
9. Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, basement, and outdoor areas.
10. Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) should be installed in your home to protect electrical outlets.
Put safety first when doing construction, upgrading or repairing the electrical wiring in homes and businesses. Contact a qualified electrician to install and inspect electrical work for up-to-date specifications and codes.