The holidays are a time for families to gather together over a good meal. Whether it’s a Thanksgiving feast or a Christmas dinner, consumers are using their home appliances more than ever this time of year. Unfortunately, with the increase use of kitchen stoves, heating appliances and the flammable nature of holiday decor, the risk of fire also rises.
Home electrical fires are one of the most dangerous and preventable hazards to homes across the country. Unfortunately, they claim the lives of hundreds of Americans, injuring at least 1,500 people every year. Some of these fires are unforeseen and unpreventable hazards caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects. But that is the exception to the rule. Many more electrical fires are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance by homeowners. Consumers often install wiring incorrectly, overload circuits and misuse extension cords.
Each year, home appliance and wiring problems account for 49,000 fires, hundreds of deaths, and $670 million in property losses. Many electrical fires in homes across the country are a result from problems with "fixed wiring". This can include problems such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with extension and appliance cords are also a major cause of home electrical fires, more commonly found in urban areas.
The most common appliance involved in home appliance fires is the electric stove. While these stoves tend to operate fairly safely, careless cooking is more often the cause, not appliance malfunction. Electric stoves lead the way in both residential fire deaths and fire injuries.
In order to keep your family safe this holiday season, take a moment to review a few of the simple safety precautions that can help protect your home from fires:
Check your Appliances: Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring. Be sure that there are no frayed wires, or worn cords. Frayed wires can cause fires very easily. Replace all worn, old, or damaged appliance cords immediately. In addition to appliances, check your electric tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them.
Keep Appliances Away from Risk: Pay special attention to appliances near water, in kitchens and bathrooms. Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers, and always keep flammables such as clothes, curtains and Christmas trees at least three feet from all heaters.
Use Appliances Correctly: If an appliance has a three-prong plug, never force it to fit into a two-prong outlet, use it only in a three-prong outlet or extension cord. Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. When working with small appliances or hand tools, be sure to replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
Take Preventative Measures: Always have working smoke detectors in each room, according to code. Smoke detectors dramatically increase your chances of surviving a fire. Review with family members and children what to do in case of emergency and practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.
By Matt Reynolds - Google+