WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita fire officials say many of the recent fires in the city were caused by electrical issues.
Wednesday, they were fighting one in the 1900 block of North Arkansas Avenue.
“This is exactly what occurs when you use a power strip connected to an extension cord, which had another three-way prong to it,” said Lt. Jose Ocadiz, of the Wichita Fire Department.
Setups like this can lead to fires.
In 2016, there were 134 fires in Wichita due to electrical malfunction. So, far in 2017 there have been 115. Fire officials say one of the causes is improper use of space heaters.
“A heater like this is really intended for temporary use only,” said Joel Troyer, owner of It’s Electric. “If you try to heat your home, one room in particular or sometimes people will take these and have multiple heaters in multiple rooms, trying to keep the house up, puts a tremendous electrical load on the branch circuits in the house.”
This could lead to either a fire, or cause the circuits to shut off. It doesn’t take a long time for a cord to heat up after you plug it into a wall, especially if it’s attached to a space heater.
Now factor in an extension cord and that builds up even more heat.
To prevent the risk of fires, there are steps you can take.
“Heaters should only be used as a temporary solution,” said Troyer. “I would not use an electric heater as a long-term solution to heating any part of your home.”
But, if you do have to use extension cords, especially for the holidays you need to keep a few tips in mind.
“Exterior outdoor extension cords are what you should be using,” said Ocadiz. “Do not mix and match indoor and outdoor just because you need a couple more feet.”
Wichita fire officials say another way to protect yourself is to have properly working smoke detectors in your home. They also recommend an evacuation plan.