Home Electrical Safety: Your Fall Checklist

Home Electrical Safety: Your Fall Checklist

With the weather getting cooler and the holidays approaching, we at Hawkins believe it is a good time to make sure your home is safe from fire risks.

What follows is a checklist compiled by our residential electricians who see fire hazards up close all too often. We recommend you take some time in the next week or two and inspect these items in your home:

Smoke Detectors: If your smoke detectors are less than 10 years old, check their batteries. If they are more than 10 years old, it’s time to start shopping for new detectors – dust and dirt get inside them and they become unreliable.

We recommend any home with smoke detectors a decade or more old replace them. In fact, many local jurisdictions are moving to require that new homes install smoke detectors with non-replaceable batteries — so all detectors must be replaced every 10 years.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors: Many homes still don’t have CO detectors, but they are a necessity, especially if you have gas appliances or a fireplace. Carbon monoxide is odorless and it kills people every year.

If you have CO detectors, make sure the batteries work and you have at least two – one located near your furnace and another outside your bedroom(s).

While you can buy combination smoke/CO detection systems, the plug-in CO detectors are reasonably priced and do the job well.

Extension Cords: Inspect them to make sure they are not frayed or damaged. If you’re using extension cords outdoors – for holiday decorations, for instance – make sure you’re using weather-rated cords intended for outdoor use.

if you display multiple decorations that require electricity, use surge protectors or power strips with internal overload protection. Do not use plug adapters to connect several decorations or appliances to a single outlet, as in the photo at left.

Outdoor Outlets: Electrical outlets outside should be GFCI-protected and have a “bubble cover” – a hinged, plastic cover that protects the socket from the elements.

Service Cable: If your service cable – the wire that brings power to your home – is exposed, make sure it’s not damaged. And during the holidays, do not hang decorations on or near the service cable.

Fire Extinguishers: Do you know where they are? Are they charged? When do they expire?

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters: Your home is most likely not required to have arc fault protection, but you should know if you have it and consider moving to this higher level of protection.

Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) are designed to detect an unintended electrical arc and disconnect the power before an electrical fire can start. They are the safest way to protect a home from the risk of electrical fire.

For more information on AFCI protection, we suggest you visit Electrical Safety Foundation International’s website. (link: http://www.esfi.org/resource/q-a-arc-fault-circuit-interrupters-191#sthash.FMIz1kGd.dpbs)

If you have any questions or concerns about your home’s electrical safety, please don’t hesitate to contact Hawkins at 1-800-927-0900. You can also use our online contact form.

Back to all articles