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Preventing Electrical Fires

Prevention is your best protection against electrical fire. Guelph Hydro recommends you start by ensuring that you properly care for your electrical devices and appliances. To make electrical safety part of your household maintenance routine, use the Home Safety Planning Calendar.

Electrical Appliances, Cords, and Outlets

  • Make sure your electrical appliances are in good condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs.
  • Do not overload outlets or extension cords with plugs from the TV, computer, printer, video game system, and stereo. Use surge protector strips if multiple outlets are needed.
  • Check the plug and the body of extension cords while the cord is in use. Some warming of the plastic parts is expected when cords are being used, but if the cord feels hot or if there is a softening of the plastic, this is a warning that the plug wires or connections are failing and that the extension cord should be discarded and replaced.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for any appliances or electrical devices that may come into contact with water.
  • For any home wiring projects, consult a qualified electrician. To find a qualified electrician, please visit the Electrical Safety Authority website.
  • Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat.
  • Make sure lamps and night-lights are not touching bedspreads, drapes, or other fabrics.
  • Use caution when using electric blankets. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use, and make sure you turn them off when they are not in use. When they are in use, keep them flat so that the heat is not concentrated in one area.
  • Do not let children use kitchen appliances by themselves and supervise any art or science projects that involve electrical devices.
  • Keep kitchen appliances away from the sink.
  • Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the range or toaster.
  • Unplug the toaster and other counter top appliances when not in use.
  • Make sure there is room behind the refrigerator for air to circulate.
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils every three months to eliminate dirt buildup that can reduce efficiency and create a fire hazard.
  • Even a slight shock from a major appliance can indicate an extremely hazardous wiring condition. If you get a shock, turn the power to the appliance off at the circuit breaker or fuse. Do not touch the appliance until it has been checked by a licensed, qualified electrician. To find a qualified electrician, please visit the Electrical Safety Authority website.
  • Cover any outlets that are not in use with plastic safety covers if you have toddlers or young children in your home.

Portable Heaters

Portable space heaters contribute to the increase in the number of residential fires that occur between December and February. Before plugging in your space heater, make sure you know how to use it safely:

  • Carefully read the directions for its use.
  • Never place a space heater where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over.
  • Never place a space heater too close to a bed, especially a child's bed.
  • Keep newspapers, magazines, and fabrics from curtains, clothes, or bedding away from space heaters, radiators, and fireplaces.
  • Heaters should be at least three feet from anything flammable.
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