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Home Safety and Security

Prevent Fires While Spending More Time at Home

Photo: Courtesy of Jen Theodore

Each year, electrical malfunctions account for 35,000 home fires causing over 1,130 injuries, 500 deaths, and $1.4 billion in property damage. Many older homes can’t handle the demands of today’s electrical appliances and devices. To prevent the deadly and damaging effects of a residential fire, be sure to avoid electrical hazards while working or attending school from home, ensure your home has working smoke alarms, and install proper safety devices.

As people continue to work or attend school from home, they should be aware of potential electrical hazards and how to prevent them. Be sure to avoid overloading outlets and unplug appliances, such as your laptop, when not using to save energy and minimize the risk of shock or fire. Be sure to inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage. Extension cords should be used temporarily. They are not meant to be a substitute for permanent wiring. Always plug in smartly. Make sure extension cords do not become tripping hazards and never run them under rugs, carpets, doors, or windows. Make sure you use proper wattage for lamps and lighting. Never plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip as they can overheat and cause a fire. Always keep papers and other potential combustibles at least three feet away from heaters and heat sources.

Install smoke alarms inside and outside every bedroom, in basements, living rooms, dens, family rooms, near stairways leading to upper levels, and within ten feet of cooking appliances to avoid false alarms. Use interconnected smoke alarms for additional safety and early warning. Low pitch sound and vibration smoke alarms are available for those who are hard of hearing. Remember to test smoke alarms monthly, change batteries yearly, and replace alarms every ten years. Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are safety devices that protect against electrical fires from malfunctions. It is estimated that 50% of home electrical fires can be prevented by proper AFCI protection. Install these devices in your home to further protect you and your family from fires.Home fires are more deadly and costly than ever. While the number of total fires and fire injuries is decreasing, property damage and fire deaths are on the rise. Many residential fires can be prevented by understanding basic electrical safety principles and adhering to safe practices. Electrical safety and fire prevention should be a top priority while spending more time at home.

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