Electrical Safety

During a typical year, home electrical problems account for many home fires. Electrical fires in our homes seriously injure or claim the lives of many Canadians each year.

  

Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Electrical fires can result from problems with faulty electrical outlets, old wiring and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.

Electrical fires and fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and an increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Bedrooms are the most common room in the home where electrical fires start.

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.

  • Never overload circuits, wall sockets or extension cords.
  • Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.
  • Do not place cords/wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas.
  • Shut off, and professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and any lights that flicker.
  • Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
  • Buy only electrical appliances which meet the UL or CSA  standards.
  • Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that spark or emit an unusual smell.
  • When using appliances follow the manufacturer's safety precautions.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. 
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters.
  • Take extra care using electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least 3 ft away from heaters.
  • Only use CSA or UL lab approved electric blankets and warmers.
  • Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
  • Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them.
  • Replace any tool if it causes small electrical shocks, overheats, out or gives off smoke or sparks. 

 

Remember, having a working smoke alarm and practicing your escape plan dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire.