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Electrical Safety Tips

The triple decker has been around since the 19th century and is a signature of Boston housing — originally designed for practical, affordable living in community neighborhoods. We love these iconic structures, but because of the dense population of the houses, their height, and the usually aged structures, it is important to take precautions for electrical safety to prevent fires.

Extension Cord Safety

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, about 3,300 house fires originate from extension cords each year. When used improperly, extension cords can overheat and cause fires, so keep these tips in mind to protect your home.

  • Extension cords are only intended for temporary use. If you are relying heavily on extension cords, this is a sign your home may need more outlets. You should not use extension cords as a substitute for permanent wiring in your home.
  • Don’t run extension cords under carpets. Running extension cords under carpets through walls or doorways prevents heat from escaping and is a fire hazard.
  • Inspect extension cords. Before each use, inspect extension cords for cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections. Do not use if damaged.


Circuit Safety

Overloading of electrical circuits are a major cause of residential fires. Understanding the signs of circuit overloads can help lower your risk of electrical fires.

Signs of A Circuit Overload:

  • Flickering, blinking or dimming lights.
  • Warm or discolored wall plates.
  • Burning odor coming from wall switches.
  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses.
  • Mild shocks from switches or appliances.


Tips for Prevention

  • Never use extension cords for appliances.
  • All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Only plug one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.
  • Only use the appropriate watt bulb for any lighting fixture. Using a higher wattage bulb can cause overheating and result in a fire.


Other Safety Tips

  • Write the purpose of each circuit breaker, fuse, or switch on the panel board (ie master bedroom, kitchen, living room, washer, dryer, etc).
  • Label all disconnecting switches and circuit breakers.
  • Never place anything that can burn over a lamp or heat-producing appliance, such as a space heater
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of a home. Make sure to regularly test them and replace them according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Never smoke inside and make sure outdoor smoking areas have proper receptacles to prevent fires.
  • Never leave candles, portable heaters, or any other flame or heat producing items unattended.


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2010 and 2014, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to an average of 45,210 home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. These fires caused annual averages of 420 civilian deaths, 1,370 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage. No matter where you call home — an apartment, condo, house, or triple-decker, electrical safety should be a top priority.

Have more questions about home fire safety or information on insurance coverage in the event of a fire? Our agents are happy to help! Call our Dorchester Office at 617-825-3900 or visit our website today.

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