March was declared as the National Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines because of the Presidential Proclamation No. 115-A. This is due to the fact that annually, during this time of the year, there is always an alarming increase of fire related incidents being reported from all throughout the country. The government agency that is handling this department is the BFP or the Bureau of Fire Protection which is the agency assigned to oversee and find ways to prevent all kinds of fire related incidents including enforcing laws and providing emergency services. As an individual or as a homeowner and a citizen in a community, we must also be knowledgeable about the dangers of electrical fires. Here are electrical fire safety tips that everyone in your household should know.
Importance of Electrical Fire Safety
One of the most threatening that can happen to your home or any structure is for it to be engulfed in fire. Fires are so destructive because not only does it have a high chance of burning your belongings and entire property, it could also be a cause of serious injuries to the people inside the burning structure, some may even cause casualties. Fires are also one of the most dangerous accidents that could happen in your home because it can also scatter to your neighbourhood, some may even get as big as an entire community. Fires happen due to a lot of causes and it happens a lot, but the most common cause of a fire is electrical related.
Although electrical fires are common to happen, there are a lot of ways that you can do to make sure that your entire house is fire proof.
Listed here are electrical fire safety tips to help make your home less prone to electrical fire.
1. Understanding the Fire Code
There’s a popular saying that “prevention is better than cure”, which is applicable to house fires, it is better to prevent the fire from happening instead of trying to quickly vacate your house when it is already being eaten by flames. One of the best ways to ensure your house is safe from electrical fire is to have electrical constructions and modifications comply with existing fire codes. The Fire Code of the Philippines have standards set that you can follow in your residential property in order to lessen the risk of electrical incidents happening in your house. Following these codes from the construction phase increases the protection of your house against electrical fire.
If you’re looking for a ready-to-own property and you’re looking for a place that complies with the basic fire codes in making your property fire proof then look no further. BRIA Homes provide affordable house and lot properties that are built with safety considerations in mind. You don’t have to worry about faulty electrical systems when you know that your home and your community is constructed with quality and with the safety of the future owners in mind.
2. Check Your Fuse Box
As most electrical wires are hidden inside walls, ceilings, or floorings, it is hard to access your home’s electrical system. Luckily, there is a way to reach them, it is through the electrical heart of your property, the fuse. Making sure the fuse is placed in the right place and maintained regularly by a professional licensed electrician or someone who is very knowledgeable in the electrical repairing. One responsibility of being a homeowner is checking and replacing outdated fuses and circuit breakers into brand new and high-quality ones. Labelling your circuit breakers is also a must because it would be easier for you and your electrician to know which circuit breaker corresponds to a certain outlet, light fixture, or switch.
3. Organize Wirings
With the guide of your electrician, always keep your wirings organized ang tangle free. Never hide your cords below carpets, beddings, or other materials that are combustible. Keeping your wires running on places that aren’t always frequented by people is encouraged. Refrain from placing cords through and across openings such as doorways and windows.
4. Choose Safe and Quality Appliances
Low quality appliances are sometimes the root of electrical malfunction. Although, they are cheaper, they can cost you more when they overheat and eventually cause a short circuit. Invest in decent to high quality appliances for your home to decrease the risk of having sudden electrical incidents especially when you are sleeping. One of the best types of appliances are inverter appliances, they are safer than regular appliances because they consume less energy. They operate in a way that the energy produced by the appliances is only what amount of energy is needed at a time.
5. Child-proofing Electrical Outlets
In every electrical fire safety tip list, keeping exposed sockets or other hazardous electrical units away from your children and pets is always present. Make sure to child-proof your home. Kids and pets love to play with everything they can reach and touch. This might cause them to damage wirings and cords, or even get hurt in the process. When unattended, you might not notice that your kids and pets had made damages to your electrical wires and sockets that you might not notice at first and may cause greater damage. Make sure that there are no exposed sockets, wires, and extension cords in your home that you little ones could get their hands on when in times of no supervision.
6. Responsible Use of Extension Cords
Extension cords are not convenience outlets, and overloading them may cause an incident. Some appliances require to be plugged in actual sockets and not on extension cords because it might not give the right amount of voltage that the appliances need. Most household extension cords only provide more distance for things such as chargers, small electric fans, and other small electrical units. Using extension cords on heavyweight appliances might damage your unit or might cause an electrical incident. Extension cords should only be used temporarily and for short periods of time and if you really need to plug something for longer durations then consider having another outlet set up by your electrician. This also reminds every responsible homeowner to only plug appliances in outlets that carries the right amount of voltage that your appliances require.
7. Repair Loose Plugs
Make sure that your plugs fit tightly when plugging in stuff to your convenience outlets. Loosely plugged objects can cause overheating and electrical shocks that can cause fires, especially when unattended for a long period of time. Reports from recent fire incidents in the country are traced to have started from loosely plugged chargers overnight. This kind of overlooked little things can cause great damage and loss of property.
8. Always Consult an Electrician
Refrain from trying to fix your own wires and appliances if you know to yourself that you’re not that of an expert when it comes to fixing electrical objects. DIYs made by non-experts can lead to a dangerous outcome. For example, if you’re trying to fix a wire and accidentally punctured it and left unnoticed, it will release a huge amount of heat and will cause a fire. If there’s something electrical related that needs to be fixed in your house, you should probably call an electrician to the job for you so it is fixed accordingly.
9. Proper Lighting Fixtures
For lighting fixtures, it is best to buy the right bulbs for your fixtures and lamps. The best bulbs are those that match the wattage with your lighting fixture. Putting a bulb that has a greater wattage than required can cause an overload that will cause and overheating and eventually cause a fire outbreak.
10. Turn Off Equipment When Not in Use
The most common electrical fire safety tip that everybody probably knows and yet still needing a reminder to is: to turn your electrical equipment off when not in use. Not only does it save up precious energy that will give you lower electricity bills, it also prevents your units from overheating and running in the background even when not in use. This will also give your convenience outlets a chance to take a break from being in use for most parts of the day. Electrical equipment such as televisions, electric fans, air conditioners, computers, and more should be unplugged after being used.
Read Also: Creating a Cleaner and Safer Home During the Pandemic
Causes of Electrical Fire
Electrical related incidents are one of the most common root of household fire outbreaks. With the electrical fire safety tips listed above, one must also know the things that really causes electrical fires.
- Improper use of extension cords by using it for continuous and long periods of time and using it for inappropriate appliances
- Irresponsible plugging such as overloading circuits by plugging in too many electrical equipment at once
- Installing light bulbs and equipment with the wrong wattage and voltage from what is required and needed
- Disregarding obvious faulty outlets and letting it be used despite showing signs of being faulty
Warning Signs of Faulty Electrical System
Although electrical fires can start with it being unnoticed there are signs that a responsible homeowner can look for in able to prevent your electrical system and electrical equipment from causing an electrical fire outbreak. When you are suspecting that something is wrong or an equipment is acting abnormally, here are the most common signs that you should look for and get fixed or replace immediately.
- Experiencing sudden electrical shocks when in contact with any equipment and outlets. This signifies that there is a leak of electricity and your wires might have punctures in them or your outlets and switches are damaged inside, probably due to it being wet or infested by insects.
- If your equipment and wirings are heating more than normal even after just a short time of being used then there’s probably something wrong with it. The best thing to do is to have it checked immediately and refrain from using it before the problem is solved.
- One of the most obvious signs is when your wirings and equipment are starting to release sparks or produce smoke, this signifies that there is definitely something wrong with it and is needing immediate attention.
- Some old homes or dated apartments are the most prone to faulty electrical system. Signs of having inadequate electrical flow or dated electrical wires are: your appliances are heating up or working slower than normal, your lights are starting to flicker or dim even after just changing the bulbs, or your smartphones are showing an “x” mark on the charger icon whenever you charge which signifies that it is not getting the right amount of energy that it needs to charge properly.
- Your electricity bills are increasing in abnormal amounts despite not consuming too much electricity for that month. This needs to be checked by an electrician or your utility provider if you’re suspecting of something seriously wrong with your wirings or if there’s somebody tampering with your electricity.
Other Causes of Fire Outbreaks
House fires are one of the leading causes of property loss in the country. Some fires are minimal enough to be put out by a normal person but some are massive enough to cause community-wide destruction and can cause deaths. Having your property engulfed in flames and smoke is a nightmare to every homeowner, and it is giving people paranoia for there are a lot of things inside our own homes that can cause fire if not maintained and used properly. Although faulty electrical system is the most common cause of house fires, there are a lot of things that can cause a fire outbreak in your neighbourhood. Knowing what these causes are makes us prepared and knowledgeable on what to avoid and prevent these things from causing a huge disaster that can lead to a lot of damages to our property, belongings, and life.
- Unattended candles, gas lamps, and other flammable source of artificial light
- Negligence in disposing used cigarettes, matches, and other burning substance
- Chemicals and gases that aren’t stored properly in the right temperature
- Leaking gas from gas stoves
- Neglected appliances such as a plugged iron
- Outside forces such as lightning and faulty wirings from the street posts
- Cheap and substandard holiday decorations
In this month where we recognize as the Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines, let us all be mindful that fire outbreaks are common but completely avoidable. Maintaining your house and just being a responsible homeowner is enough to make your house fire proof and safe. Making your house a safe haven from fire hazards is also a contribution to your community.
Written By Rashid Mansan