While many New Year’s resolutions revolve around making improvements to one’s well being, the start of the new year is also a great time to look around the house for potential electrical safety hazards.
Winter is the most dangerous time of year for electrical fires due to increases in lighting, heating and appliance use. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), home electrical problems cause more than 26,000 fires and $1 billion in property damage in a typical year.
Indiana Electric Cooperatives encourages you to practice electrical safety measures that can prevent fires and help keep you and your family safe throughout 2013.
“Since we’re focused on improving our lives and making positive changes at the start of a new year, it’s a great opportunity for homeowners to bolster electrical safety and reduce the risk of electrical shock or injury from fire,” said Rick Coons, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
The USFA reports that many home electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets, old wiring, and problems with cords, plugs, receptacles and switches.
Consider having your home’s electrical system inspected in 2013. Check the label on the cover of your electrical service panel to determine when the system was last inspected.
“An inspection by a qualified electrician is important for keeping your family safe,” said Coons. “A professional assessment of all circuits, outlets, switches, light fixtures and appliances ensures that your home’s electrical system is operating in the safest possible manner.”
An inspection will reveal potential hazards, such as exposed wiring or wiring in need of replacement.
In addition, keep the following resolutions to make sure your electrical system is in good condition:
- Resolve to install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, garage and any other areas where electricity and water might come into contact. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, GFCIs should be tested at least once a month and after a power outage.
- Resolve to periodically check that smoke alarms are working properly.
- Resolve to replace appliances that have worn, frayed or damaged cords.
- Resolve to install tamper resistant receptacles (TRRs) to electrical outlets if you have small children. Spring-loaded shutters on these devices close off contact openings, or slots, of the receptacles. Both springs must be compressed at the same time to create an electrical circuit. Therefore, no contact with electricity is made when a child attempts to insert an object into only one contact opening. TRRs are recommended by the National Fire Protection Association over receptacle caps, which may be lost or be a choking hazard.
- Resolve to have your furnace cleaned and inspected once a year by a licensed professional.
- Resolve to clearly and correctly label fuses and circuit breakers. The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends labeling fuses and breakers with the rooms and outlets they service, as well as their amperage.