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Be aware of electrical fires
by Tribune Staff
Jul 27, 2011 | 430 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SPARKS — Within the last three months, Sparks residents have suffered from smoke inhalation and extensive property loss due to electrical fires, according to the Sparks Fire Department. Investigators suspect that one family’s house fire was caused by use of the wrong size light bulb in a lamp. Another fire was caused when the resident ran an extension cord through a doorway and under a carpet to power an exterior cooking appliance.

In Sparks, electrical issues have caused up to 15 percent of all investigated residential fires with a determined cause. Across the United States, fire departments respond to more than 502,000 home fires every year involving electrical problems. Hundreds of people die in these fires, thousands are injured and billions of dollars are lost in property damage.

Sparks firefighters recommend these easy steps to stay safe:

• Use the correct light bulbs in all lamps and light fixtures. Look inside the light fixture for the label with the correct size (wattage) for each fixture.

• Look for the mark of an OSHA-listed testing agency, such as UL or ETL, when you buy electrical appliances and cords.

• Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each outlet.

• Never run electrical wires across doorways, under carpets, through walls or under furniture.

• Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.

• Use a surge protector instead of an extension cord for permanent electricity needs. Appliances that draw a lot of power need to be plugged directly into code-compliant electrical outlets.

• Follow manufacturers’ instructions.

• Never bypass safety mechanisms on your electrical panel or junction boxes. These prevent overload and are designed to “trip” in hazardous situations. If outlets or switches feel warm or you have frequent problems with blown fuses, tripped circuits or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician to inspect your wiring.

• Place lamps on level surfaces away from things that can burn.

• Use faceplates on all electrical outlets and switches. Homes with small children need tamper-resistant covers on electrical outlets.

• Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) everywhere there is water: in the kitchen, bathroom(s), laundry, basement and outdoor areas.

Experts recommend that every sleeping room and hallways serving sleeping rooms have a working smoke detector. Locate two ways out of every room and two ways to get to your children. Practice an evacuation plan each month.

For more information, visit For more safety tips, visit and click on “Prevention.”
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