The dawning of a new year often provokes positive lifestyle changes, and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is encouraging the public to keep electrical safety in mind while making resolutions for 2014.
In the United States, home electrical problems account for an average of 47,820 home fires each year, resulting in 455 deaths, 1,518 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The colder weather the New Year brings also leads to the increased use of electrical products, making people more susceptible to electrical fires, electrocutions and injuries.
“The New Year signifies a new beginning, which makes it the perfect time to identify of any possible electrical hazards and take proactive measures to improve the safety of your home,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “This commitment to safety begins with the safe removal of holiday decorations and continues with the proper usage of home heating and other electrical equipment.”
Lay the groundwork for an electrically safe 2014 by wrapping up your holidays with these tips from ESFI:
- Take down and put away all electric decorations at the beginning of January. Check for frayed wires, cracked sockets, or burned out bulbs. Discard broken or faulty lights.
- Make sure that electrical cords are in good condition. Inspect for frayed wires and cracked insulation.
- Separate and label indoor and outdoor decorations. Store them in a dry location that is safely out of reach of children and pets.
- Send warranty and product registration forms for new decorations to manufacturers in order to be notified about product recalls.
- Remove and properly dispose of Christmas trees. The best way to dispose of a tree is to bring it to a recycling center or contact a community pickup service.
Keep your home safe by learning the basics of how home heating and electrical systems work, and making sure they are properly maintained with these tips from ESFI:
- Always have a qualified, licensed professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer instructions.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
- Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually by a licensed, qualified professional.
- Be sure circuit breakers and fuses are correctly labeled with their amperage and the rooms, circuits, or outlets they service.
- Consider having a qualified, licensed electrician replace your standard circuit breakers with combination-type arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).
- Make sure ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are installed in your kitchen, bathrooms, workshop, basement, garage, outdoors, and any other areas where water and electricity are likely to come in contact.
- Examine electrical outlets and replace missing or broken wall plates to ensure that wiring and components are not exposed.
- Childproof your home by installing tamper resistant receptacles (TRRs), which provide a simple, permanent solution to help prevent childhood shock and burn injuries from tampering with a wall outlet.
Visit www.esfi.org for more tips and tools to keep you safe all year long.