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Keep your home safe from electrical fires

Your lights turn on in an instant, and your plug slides into ­outlets without sparks or shocks. You can’t see it, and typically don’t think much about it. However, the electricity that we take for granted every day requires attention to prevent potential hazards. Safe Electricity offers these tips to help keep your home safe from electrical problems and fires:

• Have all work done by a ­qualified electrician.

• Get regular check-ups for older homes, which have older wiring and are often designed for fewer ­appliances and ­electronics. Have the electrical system checked every five to 10 years, depending on the age of your home. If your home is older than 30 years, make sure the wiring meets updated National Electrical Code standards.

• Watch for warning signs such as hot or ­discolored switch plates, cords or plugs; ­dimming or ­flickering lights; buzzing or ­sizzling sounds. If you smell a burning odor, check it out ­immediately and unplug electric items in that area.

• Immediately repair loose outlets, and discard or replace cracked, cut or broken ­insulation on electric cords.

• Keep cords out of walkways and high traffic areas so they don’t get stepped on, damaged or cause a tripping hazard.

• Use extension cords ­temporarily, not as ­permanent wiring. Too many extension cords in one area creates a risk of overheating or over­loading circuits.

• Never use cords or appliances that have exposed, damaged or faulty wiring. Have them repaired or replaced.

• Avoid using nails or staples to secure electric cords in place. When an electrical cord is ­punctured, it increases the ­likelihood of electric shock and fire.

• When you replace light bulbs, ensure that you match the recommended wattage for your lamp or other light fixtures. Using an incorrect wattage increases the likelihood for electrical fires.

• If small children are present, install tamper resistant outlets or use outlet covers to reduce the risk of shocks and fire.

• Educate your loved ones on the dangers of elec­tricity and provide guidance on care for your ­appliances and electronics.

Electrical safety can also reduce energy waste and save on the power bill. Turn off electronics and lights when they are not in use. This reduces heat as it lower electricity use.

Learn more about home electrical safety at SafeElectricity.org.