An electrical fire at an Ogletown apartment complex this week underscores the importance of doing an electrical safety check at home. Fire investigators say too many appliances plugged into one power strip caused the blaze Monday that forced more than 30 people out of their homes in the Admirals Club Complex and caused an estimated $100 thousand dollars in property damage.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical problems cause 140 thousand fires across the country each year resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.
“There are some simple safety checks customers can do themselves to avoid a fire,” says Delmarva Power’s Coordinator of Emergency Services Partnership Program Vince Jacono, Jr. “Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to the misuse of electric cords such as overloading circuits, using old or frayed cords and running cords under rugs in high traffic areas,” he adds.
In addition to fire, customers should understand how to avoid possible electrocution. Keeping electrical appliances away from wet areas and never using any electrical appliance on a wet surface or with wet hands is a standard precaution. But customers should also remember to turn off a light before replacing the bulb, to never touch an electrical appliance with a metal object and only use electrical appliances with the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) symbol.
“There are warning signs of a faulty electrical system that customers should be aware of,” Jacono says. “If your lights dim or flicker or the size of the television screen often shrinks; if fuses frequently need replacement or circuit breakers need resetting; if parts of your electrical system such as switch plates, outlet covers, cords or plugs become warm or hot you should immediately have your electrical system inspected,” Jacono advises.
Finally, after all your precautions, don’t forget that a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.
For more information on using electricity safely in your home, your business and outside, log on to www.delmarva.com .