Electricity helps make our lives easier, but there are times when we can take its power and its potential for fire-related hazards for granted. That is why the National Fire Protection Association actively supports National Electrical Safety Month, an annual campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, which works to raise awareness of potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical fire safety during May.
A new NFPA report shows that in 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 45,210 home structure fires caused by electrical problems per year. These fires caused 420 civilian deaths, 1,370 civilian injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage annually. More than half (57 percent) of these fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment such as wiring, lamps, cords or plugs.
“Computers, kitchen appliances, fans and other equipment that use electricity have the potential to be involved in an electrical fire,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy. “Fortunately, people can take steps to greatly reduce electrical hazards like safeguarding electrical outlets in the home, learning the proper way to plug in appliances and more.”
Another important step residents can take to help decrease their risk, according to ESFI and NFPA, is to have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including electrical inspections when buying or remodeling a home. The following are additional tips residents can follow to help keep their homes safe from electrical fires:
• Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets where they are can get damaged.
• Have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets in your home to reduce the use of extension cords.
• 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.