Fires of any sort can be incredibly dangerous, but electrical ones doubly so. Not only will you have to deal with the fact that there will be a fire, but the fire can start in isolated or hard to reach place, and at odd hours. This can lead to a sudden overwhelming amount of fire at a time when you might not be prepared, like when you are preparing to sleep. Thankfully, electrical fires are relatively rare, and mostly preventable. Here are 8 tips for avoiding and staying safe during electrical fires.
- Regular Maintenance. The best type of electrical fire is the one which never happens. If you regularly maintain your electrical system through periodic inspections and repairs, you can drastically lessen your chances of experiencing an electrical fire. Many electrical fires are caused by a combination of aging electrical systems and outdated components. As wiring and circuitry ages, it can begin to break down, and fail. If you are not sure the last time your system was inspected, you should call a trusted electrician to come and inspect it. Similarly, if you are looking to sell or buy a home, make sure the electrical system is inspected.
- Get to Know your electrical system. If you are familiar with your electrical system, you are more likely to notice when something goes awry. Periodically, inspect elements of it which you might not use frequently. Test outlets, switches, and look at your breaker box. If you notice that things have stopped working, or anything else out of the ordinary, get it looked at asap. In particular, noticing blackening or browning of an outlet, or feeling a large amount of heat can be huge warning signs that electrical energy is discharging where it should not, and that a fire could be imminent. If you see these signs, do NOT delay in getting them looked at. A fire could even have begun to smolder already without your knowledge. Flickering lights, unreliable sockets, or other problems could also be a sign that something is wrong but are not nearly as dangerous.
- Clean Up Your Appliances. Your electrical system is not limited to what is in the walls. Everything plugged in is also a potential fire hazard. Make sure that all electronics are made by a reputable manufacturer, and that they are in good working condition. Using damaged or third-rate electronics could put you at higher risk of having one of them malfunction and catch fire. Also, make sure that the cords used throughout your house are in good condition. If you have a cord which is losing its insulation or has electrical tape covering holes, it is time to get that replaced. Finally, don’t daisy chain surge protectors to get extra outlets.
- Know Basic Electrical Safety. You should educate yourself on basic electrical safety. This includes understanding how a circuit works, and how to deal with one should it become exposed. If there is a flood, make sure you are not at risk for electrocution. Finally, know which jobs need to be left to professional electricians who will be able to make sure that the work is done efficiently, but also safely.
- Hire Real Experienced Electricians. One of the most common causes of electrical fires and damage is that electrical work is often done by inexperienced amateurs. If the person doing work for you Is not an experienced and licensed electrician, you have no real reason to think that their work will meet basic electrical safety standards. Additionally, having work which is not up to code or was not permitted correctly could end up costing you an insurance payout should a fire end up occurring.
- Upgrade your home to be more fireproof. Making sure that fire does not spread easily, in conjunction with a system which allows for easy evacuation and good fire suppression can help to retard the spread of a fire. This can give you and your loved ones time to evacuate. Upgrades like this can also increase the value of the home.
- Keep Smoke Detectors Functioning. If the worst happens and a fire starts, your best bet is to catch it early. If you have well maintained smoke detectors which can wake or alert you early, your odds of survival are much better. Keeping you and your loved ones safe is the most important thing.
- Have A Plan. Make sure you and your family are all prepared for what they would do if a fire broke out. Make sure everyone understands basic fire safety and evacuation techniques such as staying low, feeling door handles, and where things like exits and fire extinguishers are. Make sure that everyone knows what to do and where to go should a fire break out at any time.