Household Electrical Fires – Prevention 

January is the coldest month in Portugal, with an average temperature of 11ºC. With the winter season upon us, there is a bigger demand for heating appliances and other equipment to keep us warm. It is also a time when there is an increase in household fires. Many electrical fires can be prevented by following some simple electricity safety tips. 

The home electrical safety checklist below contains ten precautions every homeowner should know and follow. Always remember to ask a professional if you’re uncertain about the safety of an electrical outlet or appliance.

  • Unplug all your unused appliances to reduce potential risks
  • Charge gadgets when you’re at home and awake
  • Check electrical wires for wear and tear – replace any that are damaged
  • Avoid overloading plug/power sockets
  • Give your appliances proper space for air circulation to avoid overheating
  • Keep electrical devices and outlets away from water to prevent shock
  • If you have young children, remove any high-risk electrical items from their reach
  • Check that you’re using the correct wattage in all your fixtures and appliances
  • Christmas tree lights – switch off and unplug them before you go to bed or go out
  • Always follow appliance instructions for improved electrical safety

Whether you own or rent your home, it’s important to know the signs of a potential electrical problem. Look out for scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit breakers that trip for no obvious reason. These could all be signs of loose or dangerous wiring. If in doubt, get them checked by a qualified electrician; you are within your rights to ask your landlord if you are a tenant.

As you continue to upgrade your home with more lighting, appliances and electronics, your home’s electrical service capacity may become overburdened. If fuses blow or trip frequently, you may need to increase the capacity of your electrical service or add new branch circuits. A qualified, licensed electrician can determine the appropriate service requirements for your home.

Finally – wiring is not designed to last forever, so hiring an electrician to conduct an electrical inspection is a good idea if you live in an older home. This type of inspection is also recommended during the home-buying process so potential buyers are aware of any outstanding electrical issues or fire risks.

David Thomas is president of Safe Communities Portugal


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