Electrical Safety Tips for Winter

Fall is well and truly underway, with winter not too far behind. It’s easy to think that house fires aren’t something you’d have to deal with in winter since it’s so cold, but they are actually more common in winter than in any other season. All sorts of reasons can cause house fires, including electrical problems. This winter, keep yourself and your home safe from electrical fires by following electrical safety guidelines.

Keep Flammable Items Away from Heat Sources

Think about the heat sources you have in your home–fireplaces, space heaters, stoves, and ovens are common ones. Keep flammable items well away from these and any other heat sources you may have. This is easy to do by establishing a three-foot perimeter surrounding any given heat source. By keeping flammable items away from heat sources, you reduce the risk of those items getting hot enough to catch on fire and damage your home. This is a good perimeter for children and pets as well since it reduces their risk of bumping into something hot that could burn them.

In addition to establishing a perimeter, make sure you turn off any portable heating units if you leave the house or go to bed. You should never leave them unattended. Keep an eye on them as well to make sure they don’t overheat.

Avoid Overloading Your Outlets

There are some things you should make the most use possible out of–your outlets aren’t one of them, though. Overloading your outlets by trying to pull too much power from them can be quite dangerous. Make sure you limit your high-wattage appliances to one per outlet. Keep track of what you’re plugging into your outlets, especially during the holidays. Make sure you don’t overload your outlets by plugging in too many lights and decorations.

Be Smart about Space Heaters

What are you plugging your space heaters into? If they don’t have a long enough cord to be positioned where you want them to be, you may be tempted to plug your space heaters into a power strip or extension cord to get a bit more reach. That’s not a safe thing to do, though. It could result in the power strip melting, burning, or even catching on fire. Space heaters should only ever be plugged directly into a wall outlet that doesn’t have anything else plugged into it.

Use Outlets and Power Strips Safely

There’s more to using an outlet safely than not overloading it. If you have small children, make sure you have safety covers over each outlet. There are a bunch of different styles of outlets, so finding one that works for you should be simple enough.

Use your power strips safely as well. Don’t run them under rugs or behind furniture. It’s tempting because placing them there means they’re out of the way and out of sight. That’s dangerous though because doing so increases the risk of the wires becoming frayed. They can also be more prone to overheating. If the wires become damaged and start to spark, that’s more likely to result in a fire as well.

Practice Christmas Light Safety

Christmas is a fantastic season. The beautiful lights that are ubiquitous around this time of year are part of what makes it literally bright and merry. Virtually all Christmas lights these days get plugged into an outlet of some sort. To avoid voltage spikes, it’s important to be smart about how you power your Christmas lights.

For example, if you’re connecting multiple strands of Christmas lights to light up your tree, limit yourself to connecting three strands. The strands should all have the same number of bulbs to them. Unplug your lights (both inside and outside) before you go to bed and before you leave the house, just as you would with your space heater. If you’re using an extension cord for your outdoor lights, make sure you use one specifically for powering outdoor lights. If there are power lines close by, avoid placing any lights or decorations within 10 feet of them.

There is never a season when you can shirk taking electrical precautions. Dealing with electrical problems, especially electrical fires, is even more prevalent during the winter. Cold temperatures can make a lack of shelter or lack of electricity especially painful to deal with. Be smart about how you utilize your home’s electrical system this winter and keep an eye out for signs of damage to your electrical system. Call your electrician as soon as you spot problems so they can be fixed properly and promptly. That way, you can enjoy the winter season in warmth and safety.

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