According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), around 300 Americans die each year due to electrical fires, and around 1,500 people get seriously injured. While it is impossible to predict when accidents can happen, and when certain defects can lead to injuries, it is also true that certain incidents can be avoided, if correct preventive measures are undertaken on a regular basis. With a little bit of attention to detail, and by adhering to precautionary measures, a lot of avoidable and unnecessary accidents can be prevented.
It is also said that most electrical fire accidents are caused in the month of December. This can be attributed to a couple of reasons. Firstly, many people are at home at this time due to the holiday season. Hence, a greater number of home appliances and power outlets are used. Secondly, almost all households put up Christmas lights at this time, thus leading to a greater chance of some unsavory incident to occur.
The causes are conventionally linked to fixed wiring lines that have become old, or are misused, or even overused. Lamps and light fixtures also end up causing many accidents. Running the cords over unstable and inflammable materials, improper maintenance, overloading of circuits, and a defect in cords and appliances can also lead to fire.
- Ensure that old wires and cords are replaced from time to time. If they are frayed or damaged, they will almost certainly lead to an accident, at some point in the future.
- Make sure that all the appliances and wires are kept away from wet floors or surfaces. This needs to be followed even more stringently, if an appliance is being used in the bathroom, or in the kitchen.
- Ensure that the items that generate a lot of heat are placed, at least a few feet away from clothes made of inflammable materials, curtains, and other such items.
- Never ever force a plug into an outlet that does not allow it to be placed inside it. This will most certainly lead to a short circuit, which could inadvertently result in an electrical fire.
- Never overload extension and power outlets with too many appliances. This may also lead to a short circuit.
- If you have small children in your house, ensure that they are kept away from electrical outlets and appliances. There are several ways of child proofing a home that you should be aware of, especially if you are a new parent.
- If certain appliances are not working properly, or are flickering, or are producing a shock when you touch them, replace them immediately. Do not turn them on until they are replaced; this fact applies for light bulbs (or lamps), too.
- Always ensure that you buy products that are of a good quality. They may be expensive, but they are worth the price. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification is what you should be looking for in electrical appliances.
- Make an escape plan with your family, and ensure that everyone knows what they are supposed to do, in case a fire breaks out. This may seem ridiculous at first, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
- If possible, get a smoke alarm in your home so that you will know as soon as a fire breaks out. Many injuries are caused because people do not come to know about such occurrences.
- Carry out a routine check of your appliances and wiring to ensure that everything is fine, and there will be no or little scope for any problems to arise due to negligence and ignorance.
- Remember that making use of water to stop a fire will only cause it to increase. This occurs due to water's conductive nature. Using a fire extinguisher will be far more useful.
- If a power outlet is near a swimming pool, or in a bathroom, or any other dangerous place, install a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) on it. This will prevent short circuits, if water comes into contact with the outlet.
- Always follow the exact instructions of appliances, and do not try to change the components and the electrical composition of the device.
- If someone is experiencing an electrical shock, do not touch them. Doing so will cause the current to enter your body, as well.
- If the situation is getting out of control, call 911 and ask for assistance immediately.