TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; and#8220;Taking a few minutes to walk through your home and checking for problems can save the life of you, a family member or that of a firefighter. It can also help protect your family mementos and furnishings. During our dry season a residential fire sparked from a faulty electrical system or appliance can quickly spread to the surrounding forest,and#8221; said Gene Welch, public safety and information officer, Truckee Fire Protection District. and#8220;We all know how devastating that can be under extreme conditions. I hope everyone who reads the following article will take a few minutes to go through their home and place of work to identify and correct any electrical hazards they find. The longer a potential hazard has been around, the more likely it is to fail and cause a fire. Donand#8217;t gamble with yours and your loved onesand#8217; lives. Disconnect suspect appliances and circuits. Have a qualified professional make any necessary repairs. It is much cheaper to repair or upgrade a system than it is to pay for a funeral. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 280 Americans each year. Many of these fires are caused by incorrectly installed wiring, overloaded circuits and extension cords.and#8221;
Winter fires can be prevented. The following electrical fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire-safe home this winter.
and#8226; Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
and#8226; Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
and#8226; Replace any electrical tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.
and#8226; Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
and#8226; Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
and#8226; Keep clothes, curtains, and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
and#8226; If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
and#8226; Donand#8217;t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
and#8226; Use safety closures to and#8220;child-proofand#8221; electrical outlets.
and#8226; Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
and#8226; Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
and#8212; For more information on electrical fire safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administrationand#8217;s website, www.usfa.fema.gov