We use electricity every day, often without considering the risks that come with it. Appliances and electrical faults cause nearly 40% of residential fires in Australia. That means the devices we rely on can pose the biggest risk in many households.
The good news is that there are things that you can do to significantly lower your risk. We had a chat with Steve from Connect Electric and he talked us through some precautions and how being smart about electricity can go a long way towards protecting your home from fire damage.
- Keep Your Smoke Alarms Working
Check the batteries on your smoke alarms regularly. While this device won’t stop a fire, it can alert you when one starts. The sooner you are aware of the problem, the quicker you can respond and potentially save your home and your life. A quick reaction time can mean the difference between a singed wall and a complete loss or worse.
- Have an Electrical Inspection Done
Hire an electrician to inspect your home. This should be done before buying a property and regularly afterward. A professional can identify issues and make recommendations to lower your risk of fire.
Wiring is not meant to last forever. It will wear over time and eventually need to be replaced. An electrician can keep you updated on the status of your wiring so you can replace it before it becomes an emergency.
- Replace Old or Damaged Wiring
If you see signs of damage, it’s time to replace your wiring. Common signs include flickering or dimming lights, buzzing sounds, discoloration, scorching, or smoke. You may also notice that nearby walls feel warm or seem to vibrate. You may also see signs of rodents chewing on wires.
- Update Old or Malfunctioning Appliances
Everyone wants to get as much use as possible out of appliances and electrical devices. It’s important to know when it’s time to shop for a new one. Old appliances tend to be less efficient and are equipped with fewer safety features compared to newer models.
Just like wiring, electrical devices are not meant to last indefinitely. They will wear out with regular use. Don’t wait until a fire starts to replace an old appliance. Do it sooner so you can rest easy knowing your family is safe.
- Never Overload Electrical Outlets
Never overload your electrical outlets. This can be a big problem for people who live in older homes. Instead, reduce the number of devices you use or have new outlets installed. An electrician can provide information on how many to install and if you need to upgrade any other equipment in your home.
- Use Extension Cords as a Short-term Solution
Extension cords should only be a short-term solution. Never use an extension cord as a permanent fixture. While many are safe, they are not meant to replace household wiring. When buying extension cords, look for models that include safety closures to protect children and pets.
- Unplug Heaters When Not in Use
Heaters are a common cause of fires. Unplug yours when not in use. It is best to unplug any appliance you can when you are not using it. Doing so can protect it from power surges, lower your fire risk, and decrease your electric bill.
If you have questions about protecting your home, contact an electrician. They can provide insight into the best way to prevent electrical fires.