Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing Winter Electrical Fires

Winter Home Electricity

According to the National Fire Protection Association nearly 39% of electrical fires happen during the colder, drier months in Arkansas from November through February. Because there is less moisture in the air during the winter months, wooden structures become drier, making them more prone to burning if a spark is ignited.  

Check out our tips for preventing electrical fires and keep your family and home safe this winter.

Look Out For These Potential Hazards

Space Heaters

With the colder months comes an increased use of space heaters that require a lot of electricity and can easily overload circuits and cause a fire. Homeowners should avoid plugging space heaters into extension cords—to be safe, they should be plugged directly into an outlet and unplugged when not in use.

It’s important to place space heaters away from any furniture, curtains or drapes, clothing, carpets, or any other flammable material. You really want a level, hard surface, clear of any objects or debris with a 3 ft radius around the space heater to prevent any objects from catching fire. 

electric space heater

Electric Blankets and Heating Pads

Electric Blanket

Inspect your heating pad and electric blanket cords to be sure there aren’t any faulty or frayed wires that could cause a spark.  You’ll also want to check to ensure any temperature gages are working properly as well as any automatic shut off functions. And remember, these items should never be left unattended while on.

Heat Producing Appliances

It’s good practice to only have one heat producing appliance such as a toaster, space heater, coffee or espresso machine in a single outlet at once to avoid overloading the circuit.  

Remember, extension cords are not intended to be long term solutions but for temporary use only. If you don’t seem to have enough outlets in a room to plug all your gear in safely, give Patton Electric a call to have someone come out and install more outlets to support your needs

electric toaster

Winter Storms

Winter storms can pose safety hazards that could potentially cause an electrical fire. Some winter hazards to watch out for:

  • Damaged or down power lines
  • Water damaged appliances that may still be electrically charged
  • Generators should always be placed outdoors in a well ventilated area. Be sure to follow the manufacturers guidelines to running generators safely and to prevent fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Gas Leaks, damaged gas or propane lines can ignite a fire or cause an explosion.  
  • Frozen water pipes can burst and may be dangerous if there are plugged in appliances in standing water.

Holiday Lights

Check out our article on holiday light safety to get 9 Tips for Your Indoor & Outdoor Christmas Lights.

Outdated Electrical Wiring

Outdated electrical wiring can have a hard time handling the demands of our modern day electrical needs. These days we’re not only using electricity to power our lights and appliances, but we need it to charge our endless electronic devices—cell phones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs, video consoles...the list goes on and on.

If your home’s electrical wiring is more than 20 years old, reach out to Josh at Patton Electric for a free consultation and conversation about how we can help get your home’s electrical updated.

Some signs of electrical hazards to look out for that could potentially cause an electrical fire:

  • Sparks or crackly noises when plugging something in 
  • Circuit breakers that keep tripping can be a sign of a circuit overload, insulation breakdown causing a ground fault, or a short circuit
  • Overloaded outlets and powerstriips
  • Frayed or exposed wires
  • Lights that flicker on and off
  • Extension cords run under carpet
  • Paper or fabric close to light bulbs or other heat sources
  • Unusual burning smells
  • Yellowing or brownish burnt looking discoloration on outlets or light switches
outlet fire

Preventative Measures You Can Take

Arkansas homeowners can take some easy steps to help prevent electrical fires. 

  • Check your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors once a month. It only takes a minute to press the button to ensure they’re working properly. 
  • Be sure to replace the batteries in your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every six months.
  • Check all appliance cords annually for damage and be sure the outlet area is free from moisture or clutter that may ignite a spark.
  • AFCIs—Arc-fault circuit interrupters automatically shut off electricity when dangerous conditions occur. If your home doesn’t have them Patton Electric can install them in your home.
  • Always be sure all electrical work done in your home is performed by a qualified licensed electrician.
  • If you are moving into a new home have it inspected by a professional electrician in order to detect potential risks.
  • Have more electrical outlets installed if you do not have enough in a room. Always remember that extension cords are not intended to be long term solutions but for temporary use only.

From Our Patton Electric Family to Yours,
Have a Safe & Cozy Winter!

If you live in Northwest Arkansas and are looking for an electrician, Josh Patton will treat you like family. As a family man, he knows how important it is to have peace of mind that your family’s home is as safe as it can be. He truly cares about his customers and you can always trust that he is going to be honest and fair in his pricing.

Patton Electric can conduct an annual safety assessment for homeowners and give you the peace of mind that your family and home are in good shape for the winter months and beyond.

No job is too small for Patton Electric. Josh is happy to take care of all your electrical needs—from small jobs to large projects, you can count on Patton Electric to be there.

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