Four Tips for Winter Safety

electric generator

It’s no surprise that winter months bring increased potential for fire risks and electrical safety hazards. During the coldest months, consumers use additional electrical devices and appliances, such as space heaters, electric blankets and portable generators.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 47,700 home fires occur each year in the U.S. due to electrical failure or malfunction. These fires result in an average of 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage annually.

Safeguard your loved ones and your home with these electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

1. Don’t overload outlets.

Overloaded outlets are a major cause of residential fires. Avoid using extension cords or multi-outlet converters. Appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

In general, if you’re relying heavily on extension cords, you may need additional outlets to address your needs. Contact a qualified electrician to inspect your home and add new outlets.

2. Never leave space heaters unattended.

If you’re using a space heater, turn it off before leaving the room. Make sure heaters are placed at least 3 feet away from flammable items.

Pleae note, space heaters take a toll on your energy bill. If you’re using them throughout your home, it may be time to upgrade your home heating system.

3. Inspect heating pads and electric blankets.

These items cause nearly 500 fires every year. Electric blankets that are more than 10 years old create additional risks for a fire hazard.

Inspect your electric blankets and heating pads. Look for dark, charred or frayed spots, and make sure the electrical cord is not damaged.

Do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket. Never fold them when in use.

4. Use portable generators safely.

Unfortunately, winter storms can cause prolonged power outages, which means many consumers will use portable generators to power their homes.

Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system.

For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator first, before you plug in appliances. Run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home. The carbon monoxide it generates is deadly, so keep it away from your garage, doors, windows and vents.

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