Although residential fires can occur at any time of year, they tend to peak in the months of December and January. This could be due to the increased indoor activity, excessive holiday lighting, increased use of indoor fireplaces, and other factors.
Thankfully, the number of house fires has decreased more than 6% in the last ten years, but the number of residential fires in the US reached over 1.3 million in 2017. Because we know that no one’s holiday plans include evacuating their home due to a fire, we want to share a few ways to avoid electrical fire hazards this winter.
Play it cool with the space heater.
Space heaters can be a low-cost way to heat a room, but they can be dangerous if used incorrectly. In fact, space heaters account for 25,000 residential fires every year and one-third of all winter house fires. When using a space heater for additional heat, follow these guidelines.
• Don’t use an extension cord with your space heater.
• Keep the space heater on a flat, solid surface.
• Keep the space heater at least three feet away from flammable material, such as furniture, curtains, and rugs.
• Do not use a space heater around water
• Clean and remove dust from the space heater frequently.
• Shut off the space heater if not in use.
Be smart about holiday lighting.
Of course, we would encourage you to be smart with how you use anything with electricity, but holiday lighting in particular seems to be an area where people can throw their common sense out the window (I’m looking at you, Clark Griswold.). The U.S. Fire Administration reported between 2009 and 2013 that holiday decorations alone caused an average of $13.4 million in property damage each year. So, what can you do to avoid electrical fire hazards from Christmas lights?
• Don’t connect too many strands of lights to the same outlet.
• Only use cords rated for outdoor use for your outside lighting.
• Don’t use any light strands with broken, cracked, or frayed wiring.
• Use only products that are marked with a symbol fromUnderwriter’s Laboratories (UL) or Interlink (ETL).
Upgrade old electrical outlets and wiring.
Outdated electrical outlets and faulty wiring can pose a hazard at any time of year, and especially during winter. Faulty electrical distribution systems are the third-leading cause of residential fires. Upgrading old, damaged outlets or wiring is one of the best things you can do to avoid electrical fire hazards this winter. Always be sure to have these upgrades performed by a licensed electrician.
• Upgrade old third-leading cause.
• Install Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs).
• Have an electrician inspect all of your lights, switches, and outlets to be sure they are grounded.
• Upgrade old knob-and-tube wiring or aluminum wiring.
Contact Grounded Solutions for help.
The team of licensed electricians at Grounded Solutions have the tools, experience, and knowledge to perform electrical work at your home quickly, efficiently, and most importantly – safely. Stay safe this winter!