Electrical fires often occur unexpectedly in locations that may be hidden from view. As the second most-common type of home fire in the United States, more than 40,000 electrical fires occur in American homes every year, resulting in hundreds of deaths, over 1,000 injuries and more than $1 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“With millions of Americans working and learning from home amid COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to take a few simple steps to protect your home and loved ones from electrical fires,” says Ashley Bryant, National Electrical Manufacturers Association Low Voltage Distribution Equipment AFCI Task Force co-chair.
To make needed updates at home, consider these safety tips from the NEMA LVDE AFCI Task Force.
1. Take care with cords.
Inspect cords regularly for signs of damage or wear and tear. Use extension cords properly and according to the load ratings for the product. Never overload them or run cords under furniture, carpets or rugs.
2. Examine appliances.
When using appliances, inspect them for signs of damage. Only use the appliance in its intended manner.
3. Ensure products meet safety standards.
To ensure the products you use at home comply with national safety standards, always look for the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, like UL, CSA or Intertek.
4. Consider additional protection.
Arcing was the heat source in approximately three of five electrical home fires from 2012-2016, according to the National Fire Protection Association. However, you can help prevent this dangerous condition from leading to a worst-case scenario with arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).
AFCIs are designed to monitor the circuit for the presence of “normal” and “dangerous” arcing conditions in order to reduce the chance of your electrical system being an ignition source of a fire.
An affordable, proven smart technology that provides a higher level of protection than standard circuit breakers, AFCIs have been a National Electrical Code requirement in new home building since 1999 for certain electrical circuits. To better protect your entire home, experts recommend requesting AFCI protection on all 15 and 20A branch circuits.
To learn more about electrical fire prevention and AFCI technology, visit afcisafety.org.
Electrical fires can be devastating and lethal. Fortunately, there are simple proactive steps every household can take that can help stop an electrical fire before it starts.