Winter months bring increased potential for fire risks and electrical safety hazards. That’s because during the coldest months, folks pull out space heaters, electric blankets and portable generators for added heat.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 47,700 home fires occur each year in the U.S. due to electrical failure or malfunction, resulting in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage. This winter, safeguard your loved ones and your home with these electrical safety tips from Electrical Safety Foundation International.
- Don’t overload outlets. Overloaded outlets are a major cause of residential fires. Avoid using extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliance connections; they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. If you’re relying heavily on extension cords in general, you may need additional outlets to address your needs.
- Never leave space heaters unattended. Turn them off before leaving the room. Make sure they are at least 3 feet away from flammable items, and remember that space heaters take a toll on your power bill.
- Inspect heating pads and electric blankets. Look for dark, charred or frayed spots, and make sure the cord is not damaged. Do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, and never fold them when in use.
- Use portable generators safely. Unfortunately, winter storms can cause prolonged power outages, which means many consumers will use portable generators to power their homes. Never connect a standby generator to your home’s electrical system. For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator before you plug in appliances and always run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home.