Statistics show that home fires and electrical incidents increase during the holiday season. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has provided the following safety tips to help prevent household fires and accidents caused by improper cooking and heating practices.
- Schedule an inspection. Your heating system should be inspected annually by a qualified professional.
2. Use space heaters with caution. Keep them out of high-traffic and exit areas, and at least three feet from anything that can burn.
3. Do not leave a space heater running unattended. Turn off and unplug when you leave the room or go to sleep.
4. Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.
5. Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on top of furniture.
6. Never leave an open flame, including the fireplace, unattended.
7. Rely on the experts. Have a qualified professional install heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
Ranges or cooktops cause 62 percent of home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association. Learn how to stay safe with these tips:
- Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling.
2. Keep children at least three feet away from cooking appliances.
3. Wear short or close-fitting sleeves.
4. Is it clean? Make sure your stovetop and oven are clean and free of grease and dust.
5. Keep it clear. Keep combustibles, such as towels, napkins, and potholders away from your cooking surface.
6. Protect from spills and burns. Use the back burners and turn the pot handles in.
7. Locate all appliances away from the sink.
8. Plug countertop appliances into ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected outlets.
9. Unplug the toaster and other countertop appliances when not in use.
10. Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces.
11. Turn off all appliances when cooking is completed.
- Test GFCIs and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) monthly to ensure that they are working properly.
2. Protect outdoor outlets with GFCI technology to reduce the risk of electric shock.
3. Multi-outlet power strips and extension cords are handy for decorations, phones, cooking gear and new gift gadgetry, but plugging in too many things can overtax your home’s electrical capacity.
4. Never use an extension cord or power strip for heaters as this could cause cords to overheat and result in a fire.
5. Do not use extension cords on a permanent basis, and never use them with major appliances.
6. Look and listen for warning signs of an electrical problem such as outlets and switches that are warm or make crackling, sizzling or buzzing noises.
7. The best decorations are safe decorations. When you’re decorating make sure not to run cords under rugs or furniture.
8. Give lit decorations a holiday break. Reduce the likelihood of fire by shutting everything off when there’s no one home (or awake) to enjoy them.
9. Water the tree. If you put up a real tree, make sure you water it daily. A dried-up pine tree is nothing but kindling. On average, an unfortunate 260 home fires in the U.S. start with Christmas trees each year.
10. Only use electronics in dry areas.
Visit ESFI’s holiday safety website, holidaysafety.org which provides all of the safety tips and tools needed to Make Safety a Tradition for your family this holiday season.