Electrical fire: a major cause of home fires
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is kicking off National Electrical Safety Month (May) by reminding the public to be aware of the risks associated with the use of electricity, and providing safety tips to assist individuals in taking steps to reduce the risk of experiencing a home electrical fire.
In recent years, an average of 53,000 home electrical fires have been reported per year. These fires resulted in an average of 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage per year. One of every seven home fires was an electrical fire.
Any type of equipment that uses electricity may be involved in an electrical fire. Some type of electrical distribution equipment such as wiring, light switches, outlets, cords, and plugs or lighting equipment was involved in roughly half of the home electrical fires. There are also many home electrical fires involving air conditioners, fans, clothes dryers and appliances.
"Whether you are actively flipping a switch, inserting a plug, or simply enjoying all the electric-powered appliances in your home, the risk of fire may not be on your mind," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of communications. "Most electrical fires can be easily avoided. The first step in preventing them is to be aware of the danger, the second is to learn the rules of fire safety and then put them into practice."
NFPA offers the following safety tips (to learn more about electrical safety, visit www.nfpa.org/electricalsafetymonth):
Electrical fires tend to happen more frequently in older homes. The Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted the Residential Electrical System Aging Research Project (2008) to study how aging and installation quality of components in home electrical systems impact fire safety. The project involved harvesting from 30 homes from across the U.S. ranging in age from 30 to 110 years.
More information on hidden electrical hazards and a link to the Foundation's report are available at www.nfpa.org/electricalsafetymonth.
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