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Fire Prevention Week Good Reminder to Practice Electrical Safety

Cooking leading cause of home fires; use of electric countertop appliances rising

According to the National Fire Protection Association, a home structure fire is reported on average every 93 seconds. This October, Clarksdale Public Utilities joins the NFPA in spreading awareness about fire and electrical safety as part of Fire Prevention Week.

Held Oct. 8-14, the educational campaign promotes simple but important actions everyone can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

This year’s theme focuses on cooking safety, due in part to the rise of electrical appliances like air fryers and countertop cookers that supplement traditional stovetops, ovens and microwaves. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States, and trends forecast that the small kitchen appliances market will grow by $40 billion over the next 10 years.

“Being a locally owned and controlled utility, our customers are our friends and neighbors,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager. “That’s why we feel it is important to reinforce that practicing electrical safety can stop fires before they start, saving lives and property.”

With any small appliance that can reach temperatures as hot as 400 degrees Fahrenheit, safe operation is key. In addition to following all manufacturer’s instructions, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

Be sure not to overload outlets. Air fryers, electric pressure cookers and toasters can require large amounts of power, so it is important to plug them into their own outlets. Like microwaves, for example, you also should avoid running any heat-producing appliance through an outlet with others plugged in — especially those in use — as it can add stress to your home’s circuits. Using extension cords is not recommended.

Unplug when not in use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you unplug all countertop electrical appliances when you are done using them as they may create an “unnecessary risk of fire.” The CPSC also recommends keeping them away from other hot surfaces like stovetop burners, and from the sink so they are not accidentally sprayed with or knocked into water.

Perform a visual inspection. Check all cords and plugs for fraying, exposed wires or broken components. Do not use them if they are damaged. Make sure plugs fit snugly into outlets. If yours do not, call a licensed electrician to check them.

Reduce your risk. Two types of circuit breakers — AFCIs and GFCIs — can reduce the chance of electrical shock or fire by de-energizing circuits if they become hazardous. If you do not already have these arc fault circuit interrupters or ground fault circuit interrupters installed, contact a licensed electrician to make the appropriate upgrades.

Fire Prevention Week is the longest-running public health observance in our country. Honored since 1922, and made a national observance in 1925, the week is held each October in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which caused devastating damage. Visit the NFPA’s resource page for safety tip sheets. And if you and your family do not already have a home fire escape plan, check out this short video to create one.

Clarksdale Public Utilities is a municipally owned utility serving approximately 6,800 homes and businesses in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its mission is to safely provide sustainable electric, water and wastewater services in a reliable and courteous manner by well-trained team members, committed to top quality, efficient operations, competitive rates and the vitality of the community.

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For more than 120 years, Clarksdale Public Utilities has supplied utility services that support our community’s growth, vibrance and quality of life. But we are more than a provider of reliable and affordable electric, water and wastewater services — we are your family, friends and neighbors. We are people who care. We are CPU.

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