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Fire Hazards for Your Home or Apartment

US households have dozens of electrical devices. Electrical outlet multipliers and extension cords can easily become a North Carolina home, apartment or hotel fire hazard.

Outlet Multipliers and Extension Cords

Outlet multipliers and extension cords are the two simplest bad solutions to a power supply shortage. Consumers use extension cords to carry power from a distant outlet. Outlet multipliers—sometimes called power taps or octopus adapters—are cordless multi-plug devices that plug directly into a power outlet and offer four or more outlet sockets.

Both of these options must be considered dangerous, for six reasons:

  1. Millions of extension cords and power taps have been recalled in the last decade. Often, these recalled products are never returned to the manufacturer, but are instead sold at discount merchandise stores.
  2. They offer no protection against the risk of fire.
  3. Having multiple outlets encourages overloading the device, which can overheat and start a fire.
  4. By drawing more current from an outlet than originally designed, you risk overloading the property’s wiring.
  5. Although they are designed for temporary service only, they are commonly used as permanent wiring.
  6. Because the devices are inherently dangerous, it’s rare that you will find one that has been certified as safe by a national testing facility, such as Underwriters Laboratories. Uncertified electrical devices offer no assurance of safety.

Power Strips and Surge Protectors

Power strips—also called power bars—are multi-plug devices with an outlet cord, generally with an on/off switch. They often include a surge protection feature, designed to cut the flow of power if there is a sudden spike in the current. This is important, because a strong enough power surge can cause attached devices to catch fire.

Most manufacturers provide surge protection by including a metal oxide varistor (MOV) within the case of the power strip. However, MOVs lose their effectiveness over time, even in as short as one year of use. There is no way to tell if the MOV in your power strip is still working, or if tiny current variations over the last few months have killed its ability to block severe power surges. If there is a sudden electrical surge, a power strip with a nonfunctional MOV will pass on the full current to the attached devices, probably damaging their circuitry and possibly starting a fire.

Even worse: in some cases as an MOV is failing, it will heat up. The temperature can be so high that the component ignites, possibly causing a fire in combustible material nearby.

If you must use a power strip, invest in a high-quality one with an internal circuit breaker and an indicator light that shows whether the MOV is functioning properly. There are power strips that use non-MOV technology to provide surge protection, but they can be quite costly.

For Your Further Protection

Being mindful about fire safety is important for every family. According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 46,000 home fires were caused by electrical failures or malfunctions in 2010. Nearly half of these were due to faulty lighting or electrical distribution systems, including overloaded extension cords and outlet multipliers.

Many times fires are caused by problems with the electrical system. Sometimes landlords fail to maintain their rental properties safely. Hotels don’t take the steps they need to take to ensure the safety of guests. Injuries resulting from house, apartment and hotel fires can be devastating. Burns are just the beginning. Smoke inhalation can cause lifelong problems, make you more vulnerable to disease and reduce your life expectancy. If you were injured in a North Carolina fire that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial recovery for your losses. Connect with a North Carolina premises liability attorney from the Speaks Law Firm by dialing 877-593-4233 today.

During your confidential free consultation, one of our experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyers will answer your questions and tell you what compensation you may be entitled to for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income.