Electrical Safety Month: Preventing electrical house fires

Hampden County

AGAWAM, Mass (WWLP) – May is Electrical Safety Month and the Department of Fire Safety has ways to prevent deadly fires in your home.

In a news release sent to 22News, State Fire Marshall Peter J. Ostroskey said electrical fire home deaths are the second leading cause of home fire deaths in Massachusetts.

Electrical fires caused four deaths and $43.6 million in damages in Massachusetts last year. Seventy-eight percent of those electrical fires happened in people’s homes.

Nicholas Biuso of the Agawam Fire Department told 22News it can be hard to notice when electrical fires actually start. He said electrical fires can happen anywhere in your home, but two of the more common places are living rooms or bedrooms with loose electrical outlets.

“They’ll start in the wall, so what happens as a common sign is, you’ll smell an acrid odor and then you feel the heat within the wall. They can be hard to notice, and they can grow before you finally do notice them,” Biuso said.

Christopher Martinez from Quantum Electric told 22News you can minimize fire risk by unplugging small appliances that aren’t being used.

“Sometimes when you plug something in you hear some sort of arcing or sparking in there. That tends to be a loose connection inside the electric outlet and people tend to forget and ignore that, but it causes electrical fires by having a loose connection,” Martinez said.

He also said extension cords shouldn’t be used for as a permanent solution and overloaded circuits and extension cords ran under rugs or carpets can also cause fires.

The State Fire Marshall’s office recommends not charging your phone under a pillow or covers because your phone can overheat and cause a fire in bed. They recommend having your system reviewed every ten years, and don’t overload outlets.

Electricians, firefighters and the State Fire Marshall all recommend the best way to prevent electrical fires is not to reset your own electrical work unless you are a licensed electrician. 

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