Electrical Fire Safety

Electricity is a strong source of energy that needs to be carefully and respectfully handled. The electric current in our home is the electricity that flows through wires and creates heat as it passes. This electrical current is like the running of water through a hose. The size of the cord can only handle a certain amount of energy before it begins to overheat. Home wiring insulation, fuses and other aspects of the electrical system are all designed to move a certain amount of electricity safely. The more power you draw along the cord, the faster it heats up. For example, an appliance like a space heater will draw a lot of current and needs to be plugged into a properly built cord.

Contact the fire department immediately if you have any of the following warning signs:
• Arcs, sparks or short circuits;
• Sizzling or buzzing sounds;
• Odors, a faint smell of something burning. Firefighters can use thermal imaging equipment to see excess heat within the walls.

Call a qualified electrician soon if you have any of the following warning signs:
• Regularly blown fuse or tripped circuit breakers;
• Dim or flickering lights, bulbs that are worn too fast;
• Overheated plugs, cables or switches;
• Shock or slight tingle-more than average static electricity;
• Loose plugs;
• Unusually warm or defective outlets or switches.

Look around and correct these hazards in your home:
• Crowded outlets – more than one appliance connected into one wall socket.
• Cords pinched behind furniture such as sofas or desks.
• Overloaded power strips. Only use for a few low-current pieces of equipment, such as electronics.
• Lights or fixtures with light bulbs that are larger than the recommended wattage. Most lamps are recommended for 60 watts. Use caution when you’re using higher wattage bulbs.
• Electrical cables beneath rugs, rugs or furniture. Rearrange to reduce the risk of overheating by fire due to worn insulation.

• Twisted wire cords with broken insulation. Replace with new ones that have a certification sticker from an independent testing laboratory.
• An extension cord that is not adequately rated for the strength of the appliance. Typical “lamp cord” extension cords can not hold the electrical current needed for appliances such as space heaters or air conditioners.
• Cords or wires that have been nailed to the spot. This could create electrical shorts and arcing.
• Indoor equipment and cords for outdoor use.