Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of fire-related death in the Commonwealth. Between 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to more than 45,000 home electrical fires that resulted in 455 civilian deaths, over 1,500 injures, and more than 1 billion dollars in property damage.
Because these incidents are often caused by poorly maintained or outdated electrical systems, we can help prevent fires and other electricity-related injuries by making a few changes at home:
- Become familiar with the structure of your home electrical system to more readily identify and avoid potentially harmful situations such as broken fuses and overheated wires. Make sure the contact information for your local licensed electrician is accessible at all times to handle problems that are beyond your capabilities.
- Check the electrical systems and appliances throughout your home every six months using this home electrical safety checklist for room-to-room guidance.
- Consult NFPA’s electrical safety tips for checking electrical cords, choosing the right light bulbs, and strategically placing major appliances.
- Support old or faulty electrical systems with supplementary home safety devices such as:
- Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) to locate major and minor arc faults and shut down electricity before a fire starts;
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to detect and prevent dangerous surges of electricity (these devices should be tested regularly); and,
- Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs) to secure outlets in your home by closing them off with spring-loaded cover plates (TRRs are now mandatory for all new homes built after 2008.)
- If you plan to do any digging on private or public property, state law requires that you first notify Dig Safe, a communication network that aims to prevent underground utility damage. Dig Safe will notify utility companies of any upcoming excavations to ensure safety for workers and residents alike. You can find additional information about this program in the Dig Safe FAQ.
While the electricity used to operate the appliances in our homes certainly makes our lives easier, keeping our families safe is always the priority. By taking a few extra precautions at home, we won’t have to compromise our comfort or our safety.
What steps will you take to keep your household safe from electricity-related harm? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @MassGov.
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