While a fire can start any time of the year, there are things people do as temperatures drop that could pose a bigger hazard. Holiday cooking and baking, Christmas lights, space heaters, dryers and cranking up the heat will pose fire hazards. Watch for these common causes of electrical fires to keep your family safe this season:
- Worn Christmas lights
When the time comes to pull those lights out of storage, check them carefully for frays or cracks that could pose a fire hazard. The wiring should be soft and flexible, with no exposed wiring. If you are using the older lights use caution as they generate more heat and could cause a fire if your tree becomes too dry.
- Holiday Cooking and Baking
The majority of home fires start in the kitchen. If you are cooking something with a lot of fat and grease, it can splatter and cause a flame. If you are baking, the batter could overflow, drip to the bottom and start a small fire. Additionally, if your oven is not cleaned properly, old food scraps could catch fire.
- Dryer Lint
When removing lint from your dryer, it is important to check more than the lint filter. Lint can build up on the heating element and in other places inside the dryer, causing it to overheat and possibly catch fire.
- Space Heaters
Before plugging in your space heater, ensure it is in good operating condition. If the cord is stiff or has visible frays, it needs to be replaced. Check the enclosure of the heater for cracks or dents. Do not use the heater if the grill is not in place and keep it at least three feet away from flammable materials. Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
- Overloaded Sockets and Extension Cords
Plugging too many Christmas lights or electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating. Avoid overloading, and check cords and sockets regularly for signs of damage. Hot plugs and sockets or circuit breakers that continually trip for no apparent reason are signs that something could be wrong.
- Hot Water Heaters and Furnaces
Since many water heaters are located in garages, there is a greater likelihood that flammable material could be in the vicinity at some point. Always keep paint, varnish, gas and gas containing tools such as weed eaters and lawnmowers away from your water heater. Ensure the area is well-ventilated to avoid danger of combustible fumes accumulating and causing a fire.
- Electric Fireplaces
Keep combustible substances such as furniture, clothes, bedding, pillows and curtains at least three feet away from all sides of the unit. Never run the unit’s cord under carpeting, runners, throw rugs or similar materials. Keep the intake vent free and clear of debris for good airflow. Never use an extension cord or power strip; always plug the unit directly into a wall socket.
- HVAC systems
Over time, electrical connections can become loose, which overloads your furnace, causing shorts and fires. If you notice a burning smell or smoke coming from your heating equipment, call a professional to inspect the unit as soon as possible.
To help prevent serious damage from a structure fire, it’s always a good idea to install smoke detectors on every level of your home, as well as in every bedroom. For help installing your smoke detectors, call Mr. Sparky and we’ll have a technician out right-away!