According to ESFI, the Electrical Safety Foundation International, home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year in the US, nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage. These are staggering statistics. Many people don’t realize that they are at risk.
Here are the top 5 hazards to avoid in order to protect your safety.
1. OLD WIRING
Old, damaged, bare wires and faulty switches are an accident waiting to happen. Dim or flickering lights, unusual sizzling sounds, the smell of burning, the constant tripping of circuit breakers; these are all signs that there are faults in your electrical system. Call an electrician.
2. FAULTY CIRCUIT BREAKERS
If circuit breakers are not set to trigger properly, an overload can occur without you knowing.
3. LACK OF GFCIS
All electrical outlets that are located near water should be GFCIs. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters will shut off an electrical power circuit when it detects that the current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person, instead of just through an appliance. GFCIs are not a luxury. They are a necessity.
4. UNDERSIZED WIRING
If your wiring is of too small a gauge for the high current it has to carry, heat will be generated. When these wires are then bundled together and passed through wood framing, there is a potential fire hazard.
A 15 amp circuit can use 14 gauge wire, but a 20 amp circuit needs a minimum of 12 gauge wire. The smaller the number, the thicker the wire. You cannot put 14 gauge wire on a 20 amp circuit. Check your local codes to see which gauge you should be using.
5. OVERLOADED EXTENSION CORDS
Don’t use extension cords on a permanent basis instead of adding more power outlets. Don’t run too many appliances off them and overload your system. Don’t use them coiled up as they can overheat.