During the last few weeks, amid the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of working professionals and students alike have left their offices and classrooms to continue their work from home. This means more family members are now online, watching television, and using appliances all at once, and for longer periods of time.
This new approach to working, while keeping us safer from the virus, also presents challenges related to electrical systems in houses and apartments. To help reduce your risk of electrical fires as you work from home, NFPA recommends the following actions:
- Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets where they are can get damaged.
- Never put more than one plug in each receptacle. An outlet may have one or more receptacles – one to receive each plug.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture. Check the sticker on the lamp to determine the maximum wattage light bulb to use.
- Light bulbs in the living area of your home should have a shade or globe for protection. Light bulbs can get very hot and cause a fire if something that can burn is too close to the bulb.
- Heat-producing appliances such as a toaster, coffee maker, iron, or microwave draw a lot of electricity. Plug only one heat-producing appliance in each outlet to prevent wiring from overheating.
Even during this time of social distancing, electricians are still working and considered essential businesses in every state that has issued a shelter-in-place order. It’s critical that you call your utility company or qualified electrician immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
- A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
- Discolored or warm wall outlets
- A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Sparks from an outlet
Keeping a watchful eye on our surroundings can go a long way to helping reduce the risk of possible injury and damage from fire. For more information on electrical safety in the home, please visit NFPA’s electrical safety webpage.