Each year it is estimated that more than 51,000 electrical fires are started causing $1.3 billion in damage to homes and properties across the country. Many of these electrical fires could have been avoided with routine maintenance to the electrical and emergency devices in your home. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and fire alarms are all examples of emergency equipment used in homes to take action when a fire occurs, and it is important that each of these emergency devices is kept up to date. Some insurance companies even offer discounts for having up to date emergency equipment installed in your home.
If you live in a house that does not already have active smoke alarms, installing these devices could potentially be a lifesaving asset to your home. Make sure that there is a smoke alarm installed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area. Once the smoke alarms are installed, be sure and test them at least once a month and be sure to replace the batteries at least twice a year. The life span of a smoke detector is about 10 years, so if you believe that the ones in your home are of that age or older, it may be time for them to be replaced.
Another good piece of fire safety equipment to consider for your home are fire extinguishers. Depending on the size and layout of your home, you may consider purchasing more than one fire extinguisher. When investing in a fire extinguisher, it is important to examine the label for its UL Rating and see what type of fires that extinguisher is rated to put out. Household fire extinguishers typically come in three categories: A is for ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper, B is for flammable liquid such as cooking oil, and C is for live electrical fires. Ideally you would want to invest in an extinguisher that is rated for all three types of fires.
If you are in the process of building your home or making upgrades to your electrical system, it is a good opportunity to ask a qualified electrician if your home would benefit from AFCI protection, especially during inspections of older homes. An AFCI is a product that is designed to detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce the electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire. These advanced new safety devices recognize dangerous conditions that are not detected by standard breakers.
Electrical fires can be a silent killer occurring in areas of the home that are hidden from view and early detection. The objective is to protect the circuit in a manner that will reduce its chances of being a source of an electrical fire.
As always, if you have any questions about electrical fire safety or any questions about your homeowners policy and the possible discounts that may be available for having up to date emergency equipment, please contact our MFS team or stop by any of our office locations in the Forrest City, Marianna, and Stuttgart areas.
Marianna (Smith Insurance): 870-295-2588
Forrest City (Flanagin Insurance): 870-633-1934
Stuttgart (Crum Insurance): 870-673-8586
Stuttgart (Smith & Company): 870-673-7221
Sources: ThisOldHouse, ESFI, AFCISafety