Scheduled Maintenance for Online Services

Online Services will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance from June 21 at 6 pm until June 24 at 8 am.  

Scheduled Maintenance for Online Services

Online Services will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance from June 21 at 6 pm until June 24 at 8 am.  

Electrical Fire

Annual State of Safety 2023

Sparking BC Homeowners' Electrical Safety Awareness

Most of us are introduced to electrical safety as children. We’re instructed on the basics of never sticking fingers or objects into outlets, keeping metal out of the toaster, and staying well away from downed powerlines. However, avoiding electrical fires involves a lot more than just avoiding shocks.

Many electrical hazards can occur from what seem like convenient shortcuts, such as using extension cords as a long-term or permanent wiring method, purchasing and using uncertified electrical equipment, running an extension cord under a rug or out a window, or plugging adaptor connections like power bars into one another. But these misguided methods can lead to electrical fires.

Electrical fires occur when any electrical equipment, wiring, or components overheat, malfunction, or become damaged, which can lead to ignition. Electrical fires are one of the top causes of house fires in Canada and are one of the top safety risks when it comes to regulated equipment.

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How Improper Use of Electrical Equipment Can Have Devastating Consequences

In 2023, we investigated multiple incidents that involved equipment like heaters or power bars that were used improperly and resulted in fires in family homes.

In one reported incident, in Armstrong, BC, a portable electric heater in a bedroom was plugged into an extension cord along with the TV and gaming console. The cord connector was damaged, and the receptacle overheated and shorted, causing a fire. The fire destroyed much of the house's structure, along with heat and smoke damage. Two individuals were treated for smoke inhalation.

"When power bars, extension cords, and multi-outlet adapters are linked together as makeshift permanent wiring, it can create conditions conducive to ignition."

A second incident that took place in Abbotsford, BC was reported where multiple power bars, extension cords, and multi-unit outlet adapters were used to replace permanent wiring in the bedroom of a single-family home. The outlet, where the first power bar was connected, eventually overheated, melting the plastic of the receptacle and igniting the wall.

In both cases, an extension of the wall outlet was being used improperly, causing a connection point to overheat and ultimately lead to fire.

These and other reported incidents show the dangers of improperly used electrical equipment in homes. When power bars, extension cords, and multi-outlet adapters are linked together as makeshift permanent wiring, it can create conditions conducive to ignition. Plus, the misuse of home heating devices — such as plugging them into extension cords or using them in confined spaces — significantly elevates the risk.

Empowering Homeowners Through Electrical Safety Awareness

In response to these reported incidents, we ran a public safety campaign targeting homeowners to build awareness around common electrical safety risks and prevention methods, such as electric vehicle charging, setting up a home office, wiring an outdoor entertainment space, and employing safe practices when working near electricity or using electrical equipment.

 

Continuing Safety Education and Risk Mitigation

With multiple incidents drastically affecting homeowners this year, we will continue to work to educate the public on the risks associated with uncertified electrical equipment and the unsafe use of certified equipment. As we continue to emphasize the importance of electrical safety awareness, we will aim to strengthen the link between the public and the safety system.

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