HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – The Evansville Fire Department (EFD) is sharing information on electrical safety as we get closer to winter.

With outside temperatures continuing to drop, many residents will likely be breaking out the space heaters to stay warm. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), studies on fire response from municipal fire departments between 2010 and 2014 show that the bedroom was the most likely starting point for home fires involving electrical items, and that extension cords accounted for the largest share (57%) of home fires involving plugs or cords.

On their social media page, EFD officials provided the following tips for electrical safety in the home:

  • Any home electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician. In some communities, it’s required by law. This includes any issues involving damaged or sparking outlets, discolored or warm outlets and switches, burning smells coming from appliances, flickering lights or fuses that blow out repeatedly or circuit breakers that keep tripping.
  • When buying, selling or renovating a home, have a qualified professional inspect its electrical system.
  • Keep lamps, light fixtures and bulbs away from flammable materials such as clothing, furniture and combustible gases and liquids.
  • Be sure to use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage for a lamp or fixture.
  • Check electrical cords often for signs of wear and tear. Replace cords that are cracked, damaged or loose. Do not try to repair them.
  • Avoid placing cords where they can be damaged or pinched, such as under rugs, across doorways and close to furniture.
  • Major appliances such as refrigerators, washers, dryers and stoves should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord, as they can easily overheat and start a fire.
  • Air conditioners should also be plugged directly into the wall outlet; only use extension cords if approved by the manufacturer.
  • With small appliances, use the wall outlet directly; when the appliance is not in use, unplug it.
  • To protect children from electrical shock, use tamper-resistant receptacles and outlet covers. All wall outlets and switches should be covered with wall plates.
  • Only buy appliances that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory, including surge protectors. Only use surge protectors that have internal overload protection.
  • Extension cords should only be used temporarily. Consult with an electrician if additional outlets or circuits are needed.

Outside of the home, the Evansville Fire Department recommends that all electrical work be carried out by a qualified electrician. Never touch downed electrical wires or any person or object that has come into contact with a downed wire. Report downed lines to the authorities. Keep ladders at least 10 feet away from all overhead electrical lines, and before any digging, contact your local utility company for information on buried power lines.

As far as portable space heaters are concerned, they should be placed on a flat, solid surface. Keep them at least 3 feet away from any flammable materials and plug them directly into wall outlets. Never use an extension cord with a portable space heater.