Identifying Electrical Fire Hazards - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Identifying Electrical Fire Hazards

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It's something we don't often think about this time of year: Electrical fires.

May is Electrical Safety Month. And Electrical Safety Foundation International says that an electrical fire is started in 44,000 homes every year, causing nearly 500 deaths and $1.5 billion in damages.

So it's no wonder it's warning everyone to protect their home and their families from the risk of a deadly fire by learning to identify electrical fire hazards.

Tri-Township Fire Chief Rick Zaerr says one of the top causes of electrical fires is extension cords.

"People using extension cords excessively," said Zaerr. "Especially in some of the older houses that don't have a lot of electrical outlets. Instead of getting more outlets installed by a licensed electrician they'll just start running extension cords."

But Zaerr says that's not the only risk with extension cords.

"A lot of times they just don't use heavy enough extension cords with heavy enough wiring to carry the load of what they're trying to run off of that," said Zaerr.

You can protect yourself by routinely inspecting switches, outlets, cords, and appliances, and having any work done by a licensed electrician. Especially in older homes.

"In today's lifestyle with all the additional electronics devices to go along with your typical microwaves that didn't use to be around in those days... Can quickly overload a 60-amp service," said Zaerr.

And with warm weather ahead, you may have already turned on that window unit air conditioner or started running a fan.

The Safety Foundation says you should make sure there are no shorts and make sure you're not using multiple extension cords to those fans.

And, Zaerr said, don't run the extension cords under rugs or carpets.

So how can you tell if there's a problem?

Zaerr says to watch out for things like broken switch plates or discoloration or worn down electrical and extension cords. And to throw out any cords that aren't in tip top shape.

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