May is National Electrical Safety Month and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI ) along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are raising awareness about potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety.
Electrical malfunctions are one of the leading causes of fires in Las Vegas. With the increase of electrical items in homes and businesses, the potential for electrical related incidents has increased.
Now more than ever, electrical items such as computers, televisions, batteries chargers, game systems, solar power, electric vehicles and computerized exercise equipment are used by people every day.
NFPA reports that in 2010, electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in an estimated 46,500 home structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments, accounting for 13 percent of reported home fires. These fires resulted in 420 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.
Other key findings in the report include:
• Some type of electrical failure or malfunction was cited as a factor contributing to ignition for 73 percent of electrical distribution or lighting equipment home structure fires.
• One-third (31 percent) of civilian deaths in these incidents began in the living room, family room, or den.
• Wire or cable insulation is what ignited first in 31 percent of electrical distribution or lighting equipment home structure fires.
NFPA is offering the following electrical safety tips:
• Replace damaged or loose electrical cords.
• Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
• In homes with small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant receptacles.
• Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
• Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
• If outlets or switches feel warm, frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuits, or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.
• Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn, and use bulbs that match the lamp's recommended wattage.
• Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters in the kitchen, bathroom(s), laundry, basement and outdoor areas.
• Arc-fault circuit interrupters should be installed in your home to protect electrical outlets.
• When you are buying, selling, or remodeling a home, have it inspected by a qualified electrician.
ESFI is also reminding consumers that there are simple improvements that can be made to any home to increase electrical safety without undertaking a major renovation. This includes the installation of arc fault circuit interrupters that prevent fires by detecting hazardous arcing conditions, ground fault circuit interrupters that prevent shocks, and tamper resistant receptacles that replace standard wall outlets to protect children from shocks and burns.
Electrical safety awareness and education among consumers, families, employees and communities will prevent electrical fires, injuries and fatalities. Learn more about home electrical safety by visiting ESFI’s Virtual Home at http://virtualhome.esfi.org
The National Fire Protection Association has released a new electrical safety public awareness video at www.nfpa.org
. Other electric safety information is available on the NFPA website.