Many of the 34,000-plus home electrical fires that happen across the U.S. each year could likely be prevented with correct safety measures in place. Thankfully, you don’t have to be an electrician to take steps to help safeguard your home against electrical fires. Learning how to care for electrical outlets and devices can help reduce the chances of electrical fire tragedies.
1. Avoid Overloading Electrical Outlets
Extension cords are not a permanent solution. All the outlet circuits have a designated electric capacity, and overloading them with extension cords is a common cause of electrical fires. If you have several devices that need to be plugged in simultaneously, consider installing new outlets. Ensure the surge protectors you use have an internal circuit breaker to cut off power in case of electrical failure.
2. Get Rid of Older Appliances
Using old appliances until they are out of service may seem like a good move, but it can be costly. Older, malfunctioning appliances not only use more electricity than newer models but are far more prone to electrical fires. When an appliance shows signs of wear, consider disposing of it and getting a newer, safer, more efficient model.
3. Use GFCI Outlets Near Water
Any outlet in the kitchen, bathroom, workshop, or any other area near where water is used should include a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). These outlets include two buttons, which are generally marked “reset” and “test” and are sometimes color-coded. GFCIs are designed to disconnect the power supply when they detect improper electricity flow. If you have electrical outlets in your home used in close proximity to water that lack GFCIs, it’s imperative to get one installed on every outlet in the affected area.
GFCI outlets aren’t terribly difficult to install, and some homeowners may be comfortable installing these themselves. At GVEC, however, we generally recommend against most home DIY electrical work, and if you have any doubts about installing your own GFCIs, call us. We’ll make sure installation is done correctly, professionally, quickly and safely at a reasonable price.
4. Unplug Small Appliances When Not in Use
Research suggests that the average family has about 50 electrical devices plugged in at any given time. While you shouldn’t unplug significant appliances like the refrigerator, leaving certain smaller gadgets plugged in when not in use can present a minor risk of fire, especially with older devices. As a general rule, always unplug electric blankets, space heaters and other such gadgets when not in use. The best way to know if a device should be unplugged when not in use is to read the user manual for manufacturer guidance; however, if you’re in doubt and don’t have the manual, the best policy is to unplug.
5. Limit the Use of Space Heaters
One of the leading causes of electrical fires is the excessive use of space heaters. Avoid running them unless you are in the room or area where they’re in use. We also suggest running them at the lowest comfortable power setting, to help keep the room sufficiently warm without creating an undo electrical hazard from overheating or circuit overload. Additionally, never plug more than one space heater into a single outlet or power strip. And keep pets and children away from them, especially when in use.
GVEC Electrician Services for Home or Small Business
Besides these five steps you can implement to help make your home less prone to an electrical fire, regular electrical inspections by professional electricians can help even more. GVEC’s experienced, fully licensed electricians offer a complete range of electrical work for home or small businesses in Gonzales, Schertz, Cuero, La Vernia, Moulton, New Braunfels, Seguin, or anywhere else across South Central Texas. We install interior and exterior lighting, upgrade or repair electrical panels, offer solar panel installation, and much more. For more information on GVEC’s Electrician services or to schedule an appointment, call us at 888.590.7773.