Electrical Safety Checklist: Preventing Electrical Fires
Keeping Your Home Safe
Electrical fires are some of the most dangerous. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), there are an estimated 51,000 home electrical fires each year, accounting for nearly 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries. These numbers are staggering. So, what can you do? Spending some time learning about electrical safety and making sure your home's electrical system is in good condition are your first steps to preventing electrical fires in your home.
Below we have provided a checklist to help you keep your family and home safe from dangerous electrical fires.
Install Smoke Alarms
According to ESFi, 65% of home fire deaths happened in homes with no working smoke detectors. While you can do a lot to ensure your electrical system is safe and operating smoothly, unfortunately, fires still happen. In the event of a fire, your smoke alarm can keep you and your family safe, alerting you to the fire so that you can evacuate as quickly as possible.
Smoke detector checklist:
- Are there smoke detectors on every level of your home?
- Are there smoke detectors in every bedroom?
- Have you tested your smoke detectors this month?
- Have you replaced your smoke detector batteries this year?
- Are your smoke detectors less than ten years old?
Smoke alarms are your first line of defense against electrical fires. Not sure when you last checked your smoke detectors? We recommend setting calendar reminders for monthly smoke detector checks and your yearly battery replacements.
Upgraded Electrical Panels
Your electrical panel is the connection point that brings electricity into your home. If your panel is not maintained or out of date, it can pose a serious electrical fire hazard. In particular, arcing faults are incredibly dangerous. In the U.S., arcing faults start 28,000+ home fires.
Since 1999, the National Electrical Code (NEC) has required Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) breakers to be installed in all electrical panels. Since this is still a relatively new requirement, and most electrical panels are only upgraded every 25-30 years, it is still common to find electrical panels with old, non-AFCI breakers.
AFCIs protect you and your home from arcing electricity (when an electric charge jumps from one conductor to another) which can cause dangerous electrical shocks or start electrical fires. AFCI breakers can detect when an arc is happening, removing it before it can start a fire.
Electrical panel checklist:
- Do you test your AFCI breakers monthly?
- Has an electrician inspected your electrical panel in the last five years?
- How old is your electrical panel?
If your electrical panel is old or outdated, you should speak with one of our electricians about upgrading it. Our demands on our home electrical systems have skyrocketed in recent years, and an electrical panel installed 20 years ago is likely inadequate.
Outlet Safety Checks
Like AFCI breakers, you should have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) outlets installed in your home. Where an AFCI breaker (or AFCI outlet) detects when electricity arcs, GFCI outlets detect when an outlet faults to the ground. When this happens, a high amount of amperage can go through the circuit, potentially resulting in electrical shock or fire. When a GFCI outlet detects a fault, it shuts the power off to the outlet.
The National Electrical Code has required GFCI outlets in bathrooms since 1975. Since then, these rules have expanded to include requirements for GFCI outlets in many areas of the home, including kitchens, garages, basements, and crawlspaces. Even with these requirements in place, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that outlets are involved in 5,3000 fires every year.
Outlet safety checklist:
- Are your outlets working?
- Do you have GFCI outlets installed in your kitchen and bathrooms?
- Are there GFCI outlets installed in outlets near water sources?
- Are your outlets warm to the touch, or do you see scorch marks around them?
If you have any issues with your outlets or need GFCI outlets installed, call Lightning Bug Electric. We can help you bring your outlets back up to code.
Review our blog to learn more about GFCI and AFCI outlets and breakers.
Notice signs of an electrical problem? Reach out to Lightning Bug Electric for fast, reliable electrical repair. We help you keep your home safe from electrical fires.