We are in contact with our local volunteer fire departments often, and they tell us the winter months bring increased potential for fire risks and electrical safety hazards. This makes sense because, during the coldest months, members are using additional electrical devices and appliances like space heaters, electric blankets, and portable generators.
This winter, safeguard your loved ones and your home with these electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
Don’t overload outlets: Overloaded outlets are a major cause of residential fires. Avoid using extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliance connections—they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. If you’re relying heavily on extension cords in general, you may need additional outlets to address your needs. Contact a qualified electrician to inspect your home and add new outlets.
Attend to heaters: If you’re using a space heater, turn if off before leaving the room. Make sure heaters are placed at least three feet away from flammable items. It should also be noted that space heaters take a toll on your energy bills. If you’re using them throughout your home, it may be time to upgrade your home heating system.
Check heating pads and electric blankets: These items cause nearly 500 fires every year. Electric blankets that are more than 10 years old create additional risks for a fire hazard. Inspect your electric blankets and heating pads— look for dark, charred or frayed spots— and make sure the electrical cord is not damaged. Do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, and never fold them when in use.
Safely use generators: Unfortunately, winter storms can cause prolonged power outages, which means many consumers will use portable generators to power their homes. Never connect a portable generator into your home’s electrical system. For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator first, before you plug in appliances. Run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home. The carbon monoxide it generates is deadly, so keep it away from your garage, doors, windows, and vents.
You can find more safety information on our safety pages or pick up a home safety checklist at one of our offices.
Terry W. Mallard
President & CEO