IT SEEMS INTUITIVE that electricity usage increases during winter, when sunlight is limited, days are shorter and temperatures much lower. You’re surely aware of the battle to keep your home a decent temperature during those colder months, but you also should be aware of some of the potential electrical safety risks. More home fires occur during colder months than at any other time of the year. Help ensure safety for you and your loved ones by following these tips and minimizing your home’s hazards.
Electric Blankets and Heating Pads
Did you know electric blankets and heating pads cause almost 500 fires each year in the U.S.? According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, most of those fires were caused by electric blankets that were more than 10 years old. Experts say you should never fold an electric blanket or tuck it into other blankets while in use because it could overheat and cause a fire. Don’t place anything on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, as this also increases the chances of overheating. Be sure to inspect the electric cords to look for cracks and fraying.
Did you know December is the peak time of year for home candle fires? Be sure never to leave candles unattended or near any items that are flammable. Roughly one-third of home candle fires start in the bedroom, so you also should avoid placing candles in your bedroom or anywhere you could fall asleep. The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Consider using battery-operated candles to avoid the risk altogether.
Cords and Outlets
Plugging too many appliances into a single outlet or extension cord can cause overheating and lead to a fire. Be mindful of how many appliances and devices you’re connecting to an extension cord. Do not hide electric cords or power strips behind furniture or under rugs because they could spark and start a fire. Never place electric cords within a child’s reach. You also should use plastic safety caps to cover outlets to keep children from sticking their fingers or other objects inside. Keep dogs and cats away from electric cords, too, to make sure they do not chew on them and cause a short or shock.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
A carbon monoxide detector can alert you and your loved ones to the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas in your home. Smoke detectors should be on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area. Check the batteries in both of these lifesaving devices regularly. Make sure to test your smoke and CO alarms regularly to make sure they’re working properly.
Your space heater should be kept at least 3 feet away from anything that’s flammable, such as rugs, blankets, and curtains. Placing a heater too close to upholstered furniture, clothing, a mattress, or bedding is the leading factor contributing to fatal home fires. Don’t leave your space heater unattended and unplug it when it’s not in use. Consider getting a space heater that has an automatic shut-off.