We’d all like to believe that we’re safe in our Port St. John, FL homes, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, the electricity that powers our way of life can also put our lives in danger. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International statistics, electrical fires affect around 51,000 homes each year in the United States. Unfortunately, these fires result in an average of $1.3 billion in damages, over 1,400 injuries and nearly 500 deaths. Various electrical hazards in the home also result in hundreds of accidental electrocutions annually. Fortunately, following a few simple rules can go a long way in helping you avoid electrical fires and other hazards.
Protect Yourself Against Faults
Under normal conditions, the flow of electricity inside your home is channeled through individual circuits. Each circuit is a closed path designed to power specific receptacles and fixtures while keeping the current safely contained. However, certain conditions can cause a fault within the circuit, allowing current to arc or flow through any nearby conductive materials. This can potentially spark a fire or create a serious electrocution hazard. To make matters worse, you may not even be aware that a fault exists until it’s too late.
The good news is that you can safeguard against most faults by installing simple safety devices. Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are special electrical outlets that also function as circuit breakers. A GFCI works by constantly comparing the current flowing through each side of the outlet. If even a slight difference is detected, the GFCI shuts off power to the circuit almost instantaneously. GFCI outlets are especially crucial in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas in which water is often present. Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are similar devices, but they’re intended to protect against arcing faults. GFCIs and AFCIs are so essential to safety that they’re often mandated by building and electrical codes.
Never Overload Electrical Circuits
Your home’s electrical system is split up into multiple discrete circuits, each of which serves specific outlets and fixtures. There are several reasons for this, but one of the most important comes down to heat. When current flows through the wiring in a circuit, electrical resistance causes the wires to heat up. Each appliance or device added to a circuit increases the amount of current, which also increases the amount of heat. Adding too many devices to a single circuit may pose a fire risk by exceeding its designed capacity. This is especially common when you use power strips or extension cords.
Instead of overloading your existing wiring, you can avoid electrical fires by simply installing new circuits. Professional electrical contractors offer a variety of effective and affordable solutions to meet your changing electrical needs. New circuits are great for adding all the outlets you need to safely and conveniently power your electronics. For refrigerators, washers, furnaces and other big-ticket appliances, a new dedicated circuit can provide unbeatable safety and reliability.
Have Your Wiring Inspected
Unless your home was just recently built, there’s no telling what hazards could lurk between its walls. Older homes were often built using inferior equipment and outdated practices that are now known to be less safe. Aluminum wiring, used frequently between 1965 and 1973, is up to 55 times more likely than copper to reach “fire hazard conditions.” Knob-and-tube wiring, which often appears in much older homes, lacks many of the safety features that are standard today. Of course, even modern electrical systems can potentially become unsafe.
For complete protection and peace of mind, there’s no substitute for a detailed electrical inspection. Professional electrical contractors have the training and experience to evaluate your entire home for potential hazards. This includes inspecting the safety and integrity of your wiring, electrical connections, grounding systems, service panels and more. If a contractor identifies any problems, they can quickly conduct any necessary electrical repairs.
It’s easy to take for granted, but electricity can become deadly and destructive in a matter of moments. To learn how Extreme Air & Electric, Inc. can help you stay safe and avoid electrical fires, check out our expert electrical services or call 321-351-4786 for 24-hour assistance.