It can take time to rebuild after a fire, but often, the takeaways are immediate – such as reminders around fire insurance, smoke alarms and electrical hazards.
Nanaimo saw two house fires the past week and a half, and both were deemed electrical fires. A fire on Strickland Street a couple of weekends ago displaced a Syrian refugee family that had been close to moving into a new house, and the family is now faced with trying to replace furniture and other belongings. Another on Howard Avenue displaced three people.
Technical Safety B.C., which oversees electrical safety provincewide, was alarmed to learn that the Strickland fire was thought to have been caused by a malfunction in a power bar, and passed along safety tips to the News Bulletin.
Sometimes our common sense can tell us that a power bar is past its prime, especially if it’s becoming discoloured or makes snapping sounds, a sign of overheating. But according to Technical Safety B.C., it’s a good idea to use power strips that have a Canadian certification symbol.
It should go without saying that power bars shouldn’t be plugged into one another to increase length and especially not to provide more outlets than the circuit can supply. Residents don’t generally consider the amperage of our electrical devices, but it’s possible to excessively load the power bar and cord. It’s recommended that energy-intensive appliances like air conditioners and fans be plugged directly into the wall. In winter, not only should space heaters be plugged straight into the wall, they should be the only device plugged into a particular outlet.
Our firefighters keep us safe and our houses protected. But we all start out safer still if we can look out for ourselves, and for fire hazards, in our own homes.