When it comes to most home fires, the simplest accidents are often the cause. Looking back, these missteps are often things we think “I should have known better” about. This year, correct these common electrical bad habits for the safety and security of your household.
When you use extension cords that are coiled or wrapped, you create a fire hazard – even if you use cord reels. As current flows through the cord, heat is generated. Coiling prevents heat from being dispersed effectively, which can lead to a fire, especially if the cord is used approaching its maximum rating. Stop coiling cords and bending them back and forth, as this can break down the metal components within them.
Too Many Power Strips
Plugging power strips into power strips (sometimes called “daisy chaining”) may seem like a convenient idea to increase access to outlets, but this practice is very dangerous. Doing so can exceed the capacity of your power strip, creating a fire hazard.
If additional outlets are needed, have an electrician install permanent outlets in your home – do not rely on power strips. Their installation will cost you far less than damage to appliances from overloaded power strips, or a house fire.
Pulling the Plug
Resist the urge to yank a cord from the wall! Doing so can create sparks, sparking a house fire. Also, yanking cords causes cords to break down, leading to a shorter lifespan for the electrical device. Always unplug cords at the plug.
Dust and Dirt
Allowing dust and dirt to accumulate around your electrical cords and appliances increases the risk of fire. This debris, as well as lint in your dryer vent and lint trap, can easily ignite.
When changing bulbs, make sure you use a bulb that is the appropriate wattage for the fixture – 100-watt bulbs do not belong in sockets rated for 60 watts max. Fixtures and outlets have their maximum wattages printed on them. When you’re changing bulbs, ditch the old incandescent for LEDs that aren’t so wattage-heavy.
Electric Blanket Misuse
Electric blankets should never be used underneath layers. Adding blankets on top of your electric blanket traps heat, and can cause a fire. Stick to the lowest setting when you use them, and eliminate the extra layers.
Laptops can get hot and require ventilation to cool. When you place your laptop on a blanket, bed, or rug, the computer can easily overheat. This not only damages the laptop but can cause a fire.
Leaving Appliances On
Avoid leaving the home when electrical appliances are running. Never use the oven or stove to cook food when no one is present. Crock pots are really the only safe cooking option when you’ll be gone.
Too Many Appliances
Appliances generate heat and need room to breathe. Crowding them together restricts airflow, causing overheating. Also, only a single appliance should be plugged into an outlet to cut down the risk of wiring overload – another cause of fires.
In the last 10 years, more than 150,000 fires were caused by faulty appliances. Check your appliances for recall alerts and return or replace them if they have been affected by a recall.
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