APRIL 7, 1997

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Guest Column

Electrical cords can cause fires

electrical fires by Terri Jones
At 11:15 p.m. on April 3, the Northshore Fire Department responded to the report of a structure fire at 15109 81st Avenue NE. The owner of the house was awakened by the smoke, crawled out the bedroom window to safety, and ran to the neighbor's house to call 911. Firefighters extinguished the fire, located in a corner of the living room. King County Fire Investigators determined the cause of the fire was electrical. A power strip with several extension cords and appliances plugged into it was covered with combustible materials, causing the cords to overheat and ignite.
   As evidenced by this example, care must be taken when using extension cords. Plugging too many appliances into the same electrical outlet can overload your circuit, overheat, or cause a fire. Also, avoid running electrical cords under rugs or other combustible materials, through walls or ceilings, or under doors. Immediately replace any electrical cords that are cracked or frayed, or that get hot during use.
   The home was equipped with a smoke detector, but the battery was disconnected. When you disconnect the battery in your smoke detector, you are making a life and death decision. Check your smoke detector monthly to make sure it is working. And change the battery in your smoke detector when you change your clock for Daylight Savings Time.

Terri Jones is Fire Prevention Specialist with Northshore Fire Department.