May is National Electrical Safety Month, a timely reminder to note that the average family powers dozens of electronic devices in their household (computers, printers, game consoles, televisions, monitors), a significant increase compared to 20 years ago.
Deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths and the third leading cause of fatal home injuries in the United States. Although the number of fatalities and injuries caused by residential fires has declined gradually over the past several decades, the United States’ mortality rate from fires ranks seventh among the 25 developed countries of which statistics are available. Many residential fire-related deaths remain preventable and continue to pose a significant public health problem.
Flame retardant chemicals are used to coat the components of electronic devices, giving escape times of up to 15 times longer. In the event of a fire, the difference between two minutes and 25 minutes can mean saved lives and property.
When it comes to fire safety in the home, most people focus on the kitchen and smoke detectors. However, five out of ten home fire deaths occur in households with smoke alarms. The many electronic devices located in our homes, including the family room and home office, deserve their own fire safety audit.
Here are four tips that are easy to implement and will enhance the fire safety of the electronic devices in your home:
- Electrical outlets: Make sure an electrical outlet is properly grounded and has the sufficient power rating. A surge protector provides a safe and reliable connector to the wall outlet and can handle the demands of any electronic device. The models with multiple outlets can accommodate computer-related paraphernalia, such as CPU, monitor, printer and speakers. DO NOT use a standard extension cord suitable for a vacuum cleaner to connect electronic devices to the wall outlet.
- Computer: When you walk away from your PC for an extended period, turn off the monitor. Because monitors generate high voltage internally, they may potentially start an electric fire or trigger an explosion in a combustible environment. There’s a small button, usually in the lower right hand corner of the screen’s frame to click the monitor off; you can click it on again when you return and resume using the computer.
- Television and entertainment centers: If your TV sits in a cabinet or on any wooden furniture, make sure there is sufficient space around the set for air to circulate. Similarly, keep cloths, newspapers and other potentially flammable items away from all vents on the TV set.
- Fire extinguisher: A dry chemical fire extinguisher is appropriate for electrical fires, so purchase one and keep it safely stored nearby. If you do use it, be careful to clean up all the powder afterwards. The powder that has been discharged can cause a short circuit in electronic equipment.
You can learn more about fire safety related to electronics in the home and office from Susan Landry, Advisor for Fire Safety & Advocacy at Albemarle, a global manufacturer of flame retardants for more than 40 years and creator of GreenArmor™, a new eco-friendly fire safety solution.
[SOURCE Albemarle Corporation]