SPECIAL ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY HEINER’S INSURANCE CENTER
By: Lisa D. – Acuity
One common cause of home fires is electricity. To help protect you and your family, we have provided a few helpful tips on electrical safety.
• Overloading the outlet or power strip: Make sure the outlet or power cord you are using is rated highly enough to support the item you want to plug in. If everything is wired correctly, overloading an outlet will usually just trip the circuit breaker, but overloading a power cord could cause it to heat up and become a source of ignition.
• Using the wrong cord for the job: When it comes to extension cords, some are more heavy-duty than others. To avoid unnecessary dangers, make sure you are using the right tools and cords for the job. Understand the maximum draw the extension cord can safely handle. This information can often be found printed or stamped on the cord itself.
• Frayed or worn cords: If your cords look worn or thin, it is time to replace them. Be aware of cords and items used in high-traffic areas. Cords that are exposed to more use and abuse will naturally wear faster. While it may be a pain to replace a lamp, it will be cheaper than damage caused by a house fire.
• Loose connections: Loose connections between the plug and outlet can cause electric arcing. If you find you have outlets that no longer hold plugs tightly, it is time to replace them. This risk, in tandem with the combustible material risk identified below, is a major homeowner’s fire hazard. It is also good to note that this is an outlet characteristic that can occur regardless of the age of your home.
• 3-prong vs. 2-prong outlets: Appliances often have a ground prong in place as a safety measure. This feature should help protect from sparking or electric shock. If you have an older home, it may be worth incurring the costs associated with updating your electrical outlets.
• Combustible material too close to outlet: The above risks could come to a head if combustible material is too close to the outlet or cords. Overheating power strips, exposed wires, or sparking in combination with a blanket could spell devastation for your home and family.
While all the above items should be addressed to increase the safety of your home, if you do not know what you are doing, you should contact a professional. Electricity is something you do not want to mess around with.