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The Reliable

7 Things Homeowners Can Do to Prevent Electrical Fires

Electrical fires continue to haunt homeowners in Alpharetta and across the United States. According to U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) figures, at least 26,000 fires every year can be traced to electrical problems. Nearly 300 Americans are killed as a result of these blazes.

Those numbers should put every homeowner on high alert, and prompt you to make a review of fire hazards in your home, from a check of appliances to issues with extension cords and damaged wiring. Here are the seven things homeowners can put on that checklist to prevent electrical fires.

  1. Treat frayed appliance cords and wiring seriously. A cord that has exposed wiring is an immediate cause for concern. Family members can be shocked (or worse) should they come into contact with an exposed line of electricity. Have damaged cords replaced by a qualified electrician, and stop using the appliance until a professional arrives to make an assessment of its condition.
  2. End the use of extension cords. The USFA cautions against the regular use of extension cords. They are meant to serve as a temporary solution, not something permanent that replaces a wall outlet. The largest appliances need a dedicated outlet, and an electrician can advise you whether one is viable at different places in a room. Connecting appliances via extension cord is a major electrical fire hazard.
  3. Rethink appliance purchase and use. Too much of the appliance purchase process is based on the look and brand of products. Check to see if the appliance you want has the seal of a nationally recognized testing laboratory. While most major brands have the proper tests completed, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides a list on its site if you are uncertain. While using any appliance, make sure the plug matches the outlet, prong-for-prong.
  4. Remove cords from trafficked areas. Due to the layout of certain rooms, you may find it impossible to situate appliances without using extension cords or having wires pass through high-traffic areas, including ones covered by rugs. The solution is to add an outlet or change the location of the appliance. Don't keep a cord where people travel over it. This shortcut is too dangerous to take, as a cord kicked loose from the appliance can start a fire in any material covering it.
  5. Acknowledge smoke signals. During the operation of an appliance, the first sign of smoke of any kind is enough for you to discontinue use until it is repaired. The same approach applies for wiring and cords. In the case of any electrical device, when there's smoke, there will likely be fire.
  6. Assess power strip specifications. As with the appliances you buy, it's important to check the specifications of power strips and surge protectors to be sure they have been tested by a recognized lab. They need to have internal overload protection, or the potential for electrical fires increases dramatically.
  7. Reserve all electrical work for qualified technicians. The easiest way to prevent electrical fires is to contact a company with experience in electrical work to make a check of your home. A qualified electrician should be at the controls, no matter how minor you consider the job. Temporary fixes such as space heaters and extension cords too often become permanent habits for homeowners, and that increases the likelihood of electrical fires.

For over 35 years, homeowners in Alpharetta and the Atlanta Metro area have depended on Reliable Heating & Air. Our electricians are specialists in helping you prevent electrical fires that could turn into tragedies. Call Reliable Heating & Air today!