Fire Protection

April 15, 2011 by  

NFPA – National Fire Protection Association and Sparky The Dog

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to check on all those wires and cords. Hopefully you are moving furniture and cleaning and dusting all the surfaces of your house.  So don’t neglect the electrical wires!

You all know Sparky the fire dog right?  I had the pleasure of interviewing him (via email) to give you some tips on how to keep your home safe in regards to wire and cord safety.

Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that extension cords that we overload can get really hot and could create real fire risk?  NFPA suggests that as part of our spring cleaning each year we need to check our electrical wires throughout our homes.

They also say that electricity is a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. It’s because we overload extension cords or plus, there is wiring not done to code, we have damaged cords or loose connections that can create these fires. is a cute web site that has games and activities for children to do to learn about fire safety.

I created some questions that Sparky answered. Take a few minutes to read through them, there may be some info that you weren’t aware of.


sparky firedog

#1 Sandy: How do you know if your electric system is up to code?
Sparky: A home would be determined to be code compliant by  an electrical inspector.

#2 Sandy: What are some key things to look for when it comes to your electrical wires?
Sparky: Among many, damage or discoloration of a wire are both common indicators of an issue.

#3 Sandy: How do you know if you have too many plugs in one room if you don’t blow a short?
Sparky: This is something that typically needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows, it is usually an indication that the circuit is overloaded.

#4 Sandy: What is the best thing to do if you have something electric (for instance a lamp) that sometimes goes off by itself and there isn’t something obviously wrong (such as a loose light bulb)?
Sparky: Have it repaired by a qualified person or replace it.

#5 Sandy: Is it alright to plug an extension cord into a power strip?
Sparky: It is best not to plug an extension cord into a power strip.

#6 Sandy: If you run over an extension cord with a vacuum cleaner and it cuts some of the plastic, what is the best solution for the cord?
Sparky: Replacement is often the best solution.

#7 Sandy: Do you have suggestions for cord or cable organization? Are there any methods that can cause harm or danger to the wires?
Sparky: There are many varieties of cord organization systems available so it would be important to refer to the manufacturers’ recommendations for the product when selecting one.  Avoid any systems that would require putting cords against walls or furniture or running them under carpets or across doorways.

#8 Sandy:  What are the dangers of using inside extension cords outside or vice versa?
Sparky: Indoor extension cords should not be used outside because they were not intended to be exposed to elements typically found there.

In general, it is a good idea to call a licensed electrician if you experience any of the following:

·         recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers

·         a tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance

·         discolored or warm wall outlets or switches

·         a burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance

·         flickering lights

·         sparks from an outlet

·         cracked or broken outlets

#9 Sandy:  What are your tips for a good home safety plan for fire evacuation?
Sparky: Be sure to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside every sleeping room and outside of each sleeping area.  Draw a home escape plan and discuss it with everyone in your household.  Practice the plan during the day and at night with everyone in your home at least twice a year. It is important to know at least two ways out of every room.   (More information on basic escape planning and a downloadable grid are available at

#10 Sandy:  What are some other tips you’d like to share when it comes to spring cleaning and fire safety?
Sparky: Key fire safety tips: Key Fire Safety Tips – From “A Reporters Guide to Fire and the NFPA

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