TIPS: Don’t let an electrical fire happen in your home

Hampshire County

(WWLP) – Electrical outlets are a necessity for most residents because electricity makes life easier, but it’s important to remember to keep safety in mind.

There are approximately 45,000 home electrical fires each year according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Four out of five recent fires in Pittsfield were electrical-related. Pittsfield Fire Chief Thomas Sammons said, “Overloaded outlets spell danger, know the signs and when to unplug.”

Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of death for people over the age of 65.

Several days after three tenants died in a New Year’s morning fire in Holyoke in 2017, it was determined the cause of the carnage on North East street was electrical.

“We have a lot of very old buildings so we know having been required to be brought up to new code, they’re not required for the new code until they’re renovated, so we have a lot of services that are questionable.”

-Holyoke Fire Captain Kevin Cavagnac

This New Year’s Eve an elderly New Bedford man died in a fire that was caused by an overloaded outlet.

Holyoke Fire Captain Kevin Cavagnac says never to plug heat-generating appliances directly into an outlet, into a power strip, or into an extension cord. Always be very observant while using electrical outlets.

(Photo: Department of Fire Safety)

“If they hear any sizzling or popping sound or if they smell any odor, that’s a sign there’s a shorting going on in the wall. Call the fire department immediately,” Cavagnac added.

Here are some tips on how to prevent your home from electrical fires:

  • Do not overload outlets
  • Plug heat-generating appliances directly into an outlet, not into a power strip or extension cord
  • Do not put electrical cords underneath rugs or pinched behind furniture
  • Charge laptops and phones only on hard surfaces not on beds or sofas
  • Have a licensed electrician review your home’s electrical system every ten years
  • Consider installing tamper-resistant outlets in homes with small children
  • Never cover an exstenion cord with a carpet, they are for temporary purposes and never staple them to anything
  • If you use it to cook or refrigerate or it if it heats or cools always plug it directly into the wall
  • Never leave a space heater unattended
  • Never use your stove as a heat source
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

According to the Department of Fire Safety, in 2018, Massachusetts fire departments were called to 1,477 heating related fires that caused nine civilian injuries, 13 firefighter injuries, one death, and $10.1 million in property damage.

Space heaters fires are rare but often deadly. Space heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. Do not use extension cords; most space heater fires are caused by extension cords. Space heaters need to be placed three feet away from things that can catch fire such as furniture, bedding, newspapers, drapes, and clothes.

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services has published a brochure detailing winter home heating safety called keep warm keep safe which you can view below:

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