Although up-to-date wiring can considerably decrease your risk of electrical hazards such as shocks and fires, you still need to stay vigilant if you want to prevent an electrical fire in your home. Some dangerous but common behaviors and some little-known risks can make all the difference in whether you have a high-risk home or a low-risk one. In addition to having a contractor inspect your wiring for safety every few years, you can use these safety tips to reduce your risk from electrical fire.
1. Use electrical cords and sockets only as intended
If you've ever looked at the warnings on an extension cord and mused on how little they reflect real life, you're not alone. But if you're making the same common mistakes with these items that many others are making, then you're not safe either. Be sure to heed all warnings about using extension cords only under supervision, never running cords under carpets or across pathways, and not overloading electrical sockets. Making any of these common mistakes could increase your changes of an electrical malfunction.
2. Enforce appliance safety precautions
In addition to extension cords and electrical sockets, you also need to keep an eye on your appliances. In addition to making sure you only use new appliances (even if that half-century-old fridge came with the house, replacing it is the much better option because newer manufacturing standards are much safer), you also need to keep a special eye on certain kinds of appliances. Small lamps can fall over and start a fire, so be careful to only use them when you're in the room. And make sure everyone in the family knows never to place anything on a lampshade, no matter how convenient it is. Electrical heaters are one of the most hazardous appliances because they're actually designed to create heat, and heat is an intrinsic fire hazard. Be sure to only operate electrical heaters under close supervision and keep everything else in the room well clear of the heater while it's operating.
3. Be sure you have both GFCI and AFCI outlets
GFCI outlets are vital wherever water is likely to be present, but did you know that AFCI outlets can actually prevent electrical fires inside your walls? They do this by sensing when an arc fault develops and shutting off the power to that area. This is crucial because an arc fault can develop for any number of reasons, such as when you hang a picture on the wall and accidentally drive the nail into an area that damages the wire coating. They can also sense arcs that occur outside the walls. Even relatively modern houses may not have AFCI outlets installed (requirements to install them in bedrooms didn't appear until 1999 and more widespread requirements were added in 2008), so if yours doesn't, consider updating to these much safer outlets. These three methods can help you keep your family and belongings safe from dangerous electrical fires. Be sure to follow the recommendations of your electrical contractor each time you have a safety inspection as well.