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In Summer’s Peak, Keep Homes Safe from Electrical Fires

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RISMEDIA, July 27, 2007—As the heat of the summer continues to rise, so does the number of appliances being used to bring relief from the outdoor swelter. But people need to remember when plugging in fans and air conditioners it is important to create an environment that is not only comfortable but also safe. Each year in the U.S. there are more than 40,000 electrical fires responsible for $700 million in damages and 1,400 injuries. The good news is that most electrical fires can be prevented by taking simple precautionary measures.

The most common cause for electrical fires in the home are arc faults, which are sparks of electricity caused by faulty or disrupted wiring. Arc faults can occur in homes with older insulation and wiring or be caused by inadvertently piercing wiring while hanging a picture. Simple, common circuit breakers designed for protecting against an electrical surge do not detect arc faults. One way to avoid electrical fire caused by arc faults is to ensure that standard Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) have been installed in a home.

It is important to note that while older AFCIs protect against more severe higher energy arcing, lower energy arcs can go undetected. New combination AFCIs offer more comprehensive protection by detecting all types of harmful arcs that can cause fire, including the low energy arcs. Siemens is among the major producers of AFCIs and combo AFCIs, and each can easily be installed by a local electrician.

Other causes of electrical fires or burns include faulty extension cords or outlets, and over-crowded plugs. A simple audit can be performed to fire-safe a home:

- Compare light bulbs with their fixtures to ensure they are the appropriate wattage.
- Check that all cords are in good condition and are not being crushed or interfered with by furniture.
- Make sure there are no cracks in the face plates of any outlets or holes in the wall near outlets.
- Be sure no combustible materials are being stored close to any object that produces heat.
- Unplug all electrical devices in the kitchen and bathroom when they are not in use.
- Do not place anything flammable on a lamp, light or nightlight. Often, simple precautionary measures can help prevent some of the most common causes of home fires.

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