Arlington, VA—May is National Electrical Safety Month, and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is raising awareness about potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety. This year’s campaign challenges people across the country to evaluate the electrical safety of their own homes.
In the United States, home electrical problems cause more than 51,000 fires each year, resulting in more than 490 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“The basement is one of the most commonly ignored areas of the home. Yet, it is also where some of a home’s most essential—and expensive—electrical equipment is located,” explains ESFI president Brett Brenner.
Heating equipment and electrical distribution systems are two of the three leading causes of home structure fires. Help keep your home safe by learning the basics of how these systems work and making sure they are properly maintained with these tips from ESFI:
- To determine when your electrical system was last inspected, check the label on the cover of your electrical service panel.
- Be sure circuit breakers and fuses are correctly labeled with their amperage and what rooms, circuits, or outlets they service. Use correct size and current rating for breakers/fuses.
- Increase your fire protection by having a qualified, licensed electrician replace your standard circuit breakers with combination-type arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers.
- Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually by a licensed, qualified professional.
- Lower the setting on water heater thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Turn off electric water heaters/turn down gas water heaters before you go away on vacation.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
- Clean the dryer lint filter after each load, and keep the area around the dryer free of clutter.
- Check periodically for excessive vibration or movement when the washing machine or dryer is operating, which can put stress on electrical connections.
Electrical safety awareness and education among consumers, families, employees, and communities will prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities. Visit ESFI’s Virtual Home at http://virtualhome.esfi.org to learn more about home electrical safety.
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