Our homes are becoming ever smarter with the all devices we’re using to upgrade them. But with every new smart device comes another electronic plugged into the wall – and another risk of sparking a home fire.
According to the United States Fire Administration, in 2014, electrical fires accounted for 6.3% of all residential fires in the country. That’s nearly 24,000 fires, and most of them occurred in December and January due to our increased use of heating appliances and holiday lights overloading electrical outlets. But if you want to keep your home and family safe from the flames of destructive fires, then apply all these smart tips below.
A few precautions you can take to avoid spontaneous combustions
“According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical fires account for 6.3% of all residential fires.”
If you’ve watched the news recently, you’ve likely seen all the recent and rampant electrical fires sparked by the faulty charging and battery of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. And while these fires were caused by poor manufacturing, that fact won’t keep them from trying to burn down your whole home. This is exactly why we all need to start paying more attention to all the fire risks we surround ourselves with, because any of our bevy of plugged-in devices can quickly cause a fire.
But as the consumer electronics experts over at Boy Genius Report have shared, there are some immediate things you can do to stop smart device fires before they even have a chance to start.
- Don’t buy off-brand batteries
Even if they use the same battery cells, brand-name batteries have circuitry that’s designed to keep the battery safe, protect it from bad chargers, and vent the battery if the pressure in the cells becomes too high. With cheap replacement cells, you have no guarantee that manufacturers have taken the same precautions.
- Don’t use bad chargers with unknown power supplies.
Cheap chargers from gas stations (or even Amazon) don’t always follow the USB protocols, and they can accidentally send the completely wrong amount of power. Using a charger that’s underpowered will hurt your battery long-term, while using a bad charger (or even just a bad cable) that sends too much power can fry your devices.
- Don’t charge your devices in extreme temperatures
Your smart devices all come with temperature limits, most of which fall within a range of 0-45 degrees Centigrade (or 32-113 degrees Fahrenheit). With that in mind, charging your devices outside of those recommended temperatures can cause long-term damage – and even fires – in worst case scenarios.
- Don’t beat your batteries
For any device you own that runs off of battery, you should really be more cautious with it. They’re essentially little packets of chemicals that, when sparked or mixed improperly, can quickly become volatile. So, be kind to your batteries. Don’t hit them with a nail, hammer, bowling ball, or any pointy or heavy object.
And for all those other smart home devices that tap right into your home’s electrical outlets, here’s even more advice to keep them from getting too heated.
The smarter ways to prevent electrical home fires
According to the American Red Cross, home fires are the biggest disaster threats that Americans face. In fact, they report responding to a fire in someone’s home every nine minutes, and firefighters themselves get dispatched even more frequently. So, to keep your home fire free and without need of first responders, follow these smart tips and prepare your home properly.
- Double Down on Smart, Protective Tech
Inexpensive devices such smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors have saved countless lives since their invention. And as these devices grow smarter – and more self-reliant – they provide our homes even greater benefits. Other than the occasional “dead battery beep,” there is literally no downside to installing these, and they may even save your life someday.
Though it often goes unseen until it has already become a problem, outdated wiring often causes electrical fires. That’s because the increased number of electrical appliances in today’s average house – such as computers, widescreen TVs, gaming consoles, microwaves, and air conditioners – has drastically increased a home’s power load. And if a home is over 20 years old, it may not have the necessary wiring capacity to handle our modern electrical demands.
The good news is that that the wiring system in your home should already have breakers or fuses built into the circuit box. These should trigger when circuits get overloaded by too much electricity, shutting off the flow of power to that portion of the home to prevent any fires.
However, outdated breaker boxes often have worn connectors that do not work, causing the system to overload and start an electrical fire. On top of that, be sure to make note of breakers that trip (or fuses that blow) frequently. This is almost always a warning sign of an overloaded circuit or another wiring problem. And if not fixed, these could cause a much bigger and hotter problems.
- Use Caution: Space Heaters Are Warm – and Dangerous
While your space heaters may provide you much comfort, they’re also responsible for starting around 12 % of house fires every single year. So, to enjoy the warm benefits without burning the place down, keep flammable materials (like curtains and the couch) a safe distance (usually 3 feet) from portable heaters.
Also, set heaters where they are not in the traffic flow of the room, don’t use extension cords with them, and only place them on solid firm surfaces (like the floor) so they don’t tip over. And for added safety, replace old space heaters with ones that disperse the heat more evenly and automatically turn off if they do happen to get tipped over.
Heater coils and furnace burners tend to collect debris and dust that may have settled on them during the summer months. And these will spark a fire almost instantly. So don’t tempt fate – clean your coils.
Tidy up around washers and dryers, folks. They draw large amounts of power, and lots of lint accumulates around these appliances (no matter how smart they are). And lint is surprisingly good at starting a fire.
- Don’t Overload Your Outlets
Just because you can plug every electronic device you own into a single outlet, that doesn’t mean you should. While many people try to expand the outlets in their home, they don’t give much thought to how dangerous his actually is. Trying to draw too much power can easily cause an outlet to overheat, short out, and possibly even spark a fire. Instead, if you’ve got a limited number of outlets in your home and you’d like to safely make the most of each one, consider buying power strips equipped with internal overload protection. This feature ensures that a strip shuts off as soon as it becomes overloaded, never letting a fire ever have a chance.
And if you’d like to make the smartest move, let Allconnect help you find the best provider for the added assurance of home security and fire alarm systems. Because when it comes to fire prevention, it all boils down to being smart about how you use technology, and all your devices, together to your advantage and protection.