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May is Electrical Safety Month

This May, Electrical Safety Month comes at a time when most of us are at staying home, studying, working, and connecting with family and friends remotely. “We are using more electronic devices at once than normal. Practicing electrical safety is more important now than ever,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.
Don’t Charge Your Cell Phone or Laptop in Bed
     Many fires are caused by cell phones charging underneath pillows and laptops left running on top of the bed covers. These devices are always processing when running or charging. Blocking or covering them can prevent air from cooling the batteries and lead to a fire. Failures of the lithium ion batteries typically used in these devices are more likely to occur during recharging. Charge these devices on a hard surface. “This is an important electrical safety lesson adults should teach children and teens who are using electronics to do their schoolwork, play, and stay connected to friends,” said Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts President Dennis Condon.
Don’t Overload Circuits and Power Strips
     One way to prevent electrical fires is to limit the number of devices plugged into any single outlet or circuit. Plugging too many things into a single outlet or circuit overloads them and starts fires.
Electrical Fires Caused 39 Deaths and Nearly $200 Million in Damages (2014-2018)
From 2014-18, Massachusetts fire departments reported 2,794 home fires caused by electrical problems. These fires caused 39 civilian deaths, 92 civilian injuries, 355 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $198.3 million.
     “Electrical fires are the second leading cause of home fire deaths in Massachusetts,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “The best ways to prevent electrical fires are to have a licensed electrician do all work, and have your electrical system reviewed every 10 years so you or your tenants won’t be tempted to overload outlets.” He added, “We need to keep our electrical systems up to date with our ever-increasing electrical needs in this technological age.”
Know the Warning Signs
     “Call your local fire department immediately if you have warning signs such as arcs, sparks, or short circuits,” advises Chief Dennis Condon. “Other warning signs include hearing a sizzling or buzzing sound or smelling a vague odor of something burning. Immediate attention to these signs can save lives,” he added, “Firefighters can use thermal imaging technology to see excessive heat inside the walls.”
• Call a professional electrician soon if you have any of these warning signs:
• Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers;
• Dim or flickering lights, bulbs that wear out too fast;
• Overheated plugs, cords or switches;
• Shock or mild tingle – more than normal static electricity;
• Loose outlets or unusually warm or faulty outlets or switches.
Give Electrical Systems a Tune-Up Every 10 Years
     Extension cords are designed for temporary use, but many people leave them in place permanently and forget about them. Plugging many things into a single outlet or reliance on extension cords are signs it is time to have an electrician review your system.
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