Guest post by: Brett Brenner, President, Electrical Safety Foundation International
Electrical failures and malfunctions are a leading cause of home fires year after year. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is once again joining NFPA’s crusade to raise awareness about the importance of fire safety during Fire Prevention Week. ESFI’s Fire Prevention Week resources complement the “Have 2 Ways Out” campaign by educating the public about simple precautions that can be taken to prevent home electrical fires before they start.
ESFI offers these tips to help you protect your home and family from electrical fires:
- Safety should always be the top priority when working with electricity. ESFI recommends that a qualified, licensed electrician perform all home electrical work in compliance with local and national safety standards.
- Consider having your circuit breakers replaced with arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), which provide enhanced electrical fire protection by detecting dangerous arcing conditions.
- Make sure all electrical panel circuits are properly labeled. Always replace fuses or circuit breakers with the correct size and amperage.
- Keep the area around the electrical panel clear so that you can easily shut off power in an emergency.
- Every month, use the TEST button to check that ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and AFCIs are working properly.
- Look for warning signs of an electrical problem such as outlets and switches that are warm or make crackling, sizzling or buzzing noises.
- Regularly check cords, outlets, switches, and appliances for signs of damage. Do not use damaged electrical devices.
- Do not use extension cords on a permanent basis, and never use them with space heaters or air conditioners.
- Avoid overloading outlets.
- Do not use light bulbs that exceed the recommended wattage of the light fixture or lamp.
Visit NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week website for more information on the “Have 2 Ways Out” campaign featuring a variety of resources for all audiences including teachers, firefighters and safety advocates, and families. You can even test your fire safety knowledge with the “Fire Prevention Week Quiz!”
Also visit www.electrical-safety.org for more electrical and fire safety information and resources including the Electrical Fire Safety Checklist and illustrated tips sheets to help you properly maintain your smoke alarms and AFCIs.