This Month in Fire Safety: Electrical Safety
Electricity helps make our lives easier but there are times when we can take its power and its potential for fire-related hazards for granted. That is why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) actively supports National Electrical Safety Month, an annual campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which works to raise awareness of potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical fire safety during May.
A new NFPA report shows that in 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 45,210 home structure fires caused by electrical problems per year. These fires caused 420 civilian deaths, 1,370 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage annually. More than half (57 percent) of these fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment such as wiring, lamps, cords or plugs.
Another important step residents can take to help decrease their risk, according to ESFI and NFPA, is to have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including electrical inspections when buying or remodeling a home. The following are additional tips residents can follow to help keep their homes safe from electrical fires:
- Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets where they are can get damaged. ◦Have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets in your home to reduce the use of extension cords.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture. Check the sticker on the lamp to determine the maximum wattage light bulb to use.
When There Is a Fire
DURING A FIRE
If your clothes catch on fire, you should stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished.
DO NOT PANIC
- Get out of the house.
- Call 9-1-1; do not assume someone else already called.
ESCAPE A FIRE
- Check closed doors with the back of your hand to feel for heat before you open them.
- If the door is hot do not open it. Find a second way out, such as a window.
- If you cannot escape through a window, hang a white sheet outside the window to alert firefighters to your presence.
- Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
- If there is a phone in the room where you are trapped, call 9-1-1 and tell them exactly where you are.
- If the door is cold slowly open it and ensure that fire and/or smoke are not blocking your escape route. If your escape route is blocked, shut the door and use another escape route.
- If clear, leave immediately and close the door behind you. Be prepared to crawl.
AFTER A FIRE
- Once you are out of the building, STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason.
- If you are with a burn victim or are a burn victim yourself call 9-1-1. Cool and cover your burns until emergency units arrive.
- If you are a tenant, contact the landlord.
- Tell the fire department if you know of anyone trapped in the building.
- Only enter when the fire department tells you it is safe to do so.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. Each year, more than 20,000 Americans visit an emergency room due to carbon monoxide poisoning. A carbon monoxide detector is your best protection against this deadly gas. Having a carbon monoxide detector is recommended for all homes, especially homes that have propane or natural gas. At a minimum, it is recommended to place carbon monoxide detectors in common areas near bedrooms.
WHERE IS CARBON MONOXIDE
Carbon monoxide exists wherever fuel is burned, including:
- Cars or trucks
- Small engines
- Stoves and ovens
- Gas ranges
SIGNS OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
WHAT TO DO
- Call 9-1-1.
- Get out of the building as quickly as possible.
- Alert others in the building to escape.
- Wait outside for emergency teams to arrive.
- Do not go back inside until the emergency team tells you it is safe.