Electrical Safety tips from Kelowna Electricians at Epic Electric
One fifth of all fires in Canada are due to electrical fires; and the winter months are the worst for fires than any other period in the year. This is because of the increased use in the household of heating devices, electrical appliances, and additional lighting during the cold season. In most cases, the cause of these fires is due to flawed or outdated electrical wiring, the failure of electrical appliances, or the overloading of electrical outlets. Learn how to keep your home fireproof this winter and to safeguard your home and the people in it by knowing the most common reasons electrical fires happen, what you can do to prevent them, and how you can deal with them safely and efficiently should they occur.
Faulty wiring is one of the main causes of electrical fires. Sometimes these fires are the results of bad installation; other times it’s just age catching up with the wiring. The warning signs for faulty wiring include: frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers; dim or flickering lights; overheated cords, switches, or plugs; bulbs that die out too quickly; and hot or discoloured wall outlets. If you notice any of these warning signs in your home, don’t hesitate: call a professional electrician right away. The longer your delay the more chance of an electrical fire breaking out. Never attempt to do any rewiring yourself; hire a professional electrician to do the job safely and securely.
Appliances overheating are a fire risk not many people are aware of. Appliances that are old and overused are the most likely to cause trouble, because they become worn and their power cords frayed, and they draw more power than the wall outlets can handle. Make sure to check electrical appliances such as televisions, electric blankets, heating pads, curling irons, etc. on a regular basis. Look for fraying or other damage on the appliances and their plugs and cords, and make sure not to overload power boxes by using too many appliances at one time. Don’t trap electrical cords under carpets or heavy items. Use surge protectors where necessary and replace older appliances with safer more energy-efficient ones that follow approved safety standards. Always keep appliances away from anything flammable, particularly carpets, rugs, curtains, and clothes.
Fires often start when too many things are plugged into a single outlet or circuit, overloading them. Unrestricted use of extension cords is also a major fire hazard, especially with appliances that generate heat like space heaters and irons. Extension cords are only a temporary solution; they are not permanent fixtures. Also, bulbs whose wattage is too high can overload the fixture or wiring, and should therefore be avoided.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; but sometimes with electrical fire you may not even see the smoke until it’s too late. Therefore, in the event of a fire, the early warning sound of a smoke detector is vital. Install them outside each sleeping area, inside any bedroom where the door is typically shut, and on every story of the house, including the basement. Test your smoke detectors regularly (once a month) and replace the batteries once a year. All smoke detectors have a life span and should be replaced at least every 10 years. Hard-wired, interconnected smoke detectors must be replaced by a professional electrician.
The best way to maintain your home’s electrical system is to hire an experienced professional electrician. Resist doing your own electrical work or hiring a handyman neighbour or friend unless you or they are licensed electricians. If you can’t remember the last time you had the electrics of your home inspected, then maybe now is the right time for a maintenance call.