A message from the McKinney Fire Department:
For most McKinney residents, flipping a light switch, plugging in a coffeemaker, charging a laptop computer, or turning on a small electrical appliance for warmth such as a space heater or electric blanket, is second nature. Electricity makes our lives easier and more comfortable. But, the McKinney Fire Department warns: Keep Safety in Mind.
On Friday, December 16, 2011, a caller to 9-1-1 reported flames coming from the roof of a residence in the 2800 block of Cedar Ridge. Thirty-one McKinney Fire Department personnel responded, finding the two-story home fully engulfed in flames. The home and contents, valued at approximately $500,000 was declared a total loss. Investigators believe that the fire was started by an electric blanket.
According to Stacie Durham, Public Information Officer for the McKinney Fire Department, “Between 2003 and 2007, U.S. fire departments responded to 51,000 residential structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. These fires resulted in 490 civilian deaths, 1,440 civilian injuries and $1.3 billion in property damage. Fifty-three percent of these fires involved some type of equipment or appliance, such as a range, washer or dryer, or space heater. While devastating to the homeowner, we are very lucky that the Cedar Ridge fire didn’t result in deaths or injuries.”
Durham offered the following tips when dealing with electricity and appliances:
- Electricity is dangerous. Have ALL electrical work done by a licensed electrician.
- Only plug one heat-producing appliance, such as a coffee maker, toaster or spacer heater into a receptacle at a time.
- Major appliances, such as refrigerators, dryers, washers, ranges, and air conditioners, must be plugged directly into a wall outlet rated for their load specifically. Extension cords, outlet adapters and power strips must never be used.
- Make sure electrical cords are not running across doorways or under rugs/carpets.
- Extension cords are for temporary use. If necessary, have a licensed electrician add more power outlets.
- Never exceed the maximum recommended bulb wattage on lamps and other lighting fixtures. Read the label on the fixture for maximum wattage recommendations.
- Be certain that small appliances such as curling irons, lamps, coffee pots, space heaters and electric blankets, are in the “Off” position before leaving the room. For additional tips on electric or heating blanket safety, visit www.mckinneyfire.org.
“Problems with electrical systems may be indicated prior to a fire. Immediately contact a licensed electrician or your landlord if you experience frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers; feeling a tingling when you touch an appliance; see discolored or burned wall outlets or feel warm electrical cords; detect a burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance; see flickering or dimming lights; or sparks from an outlet when plugging or unplugging a cord.”