Leaves are already turning in central Indiana, and autumn doesn’t officially begin until Sept. 22. For this reason, now is a good time to discuss dry leaves and electrical safety.
After falling, leaves tend to dry out and collect in piles around the bases of homes, in gardens, and lawn furniture. While not only unsightly and attractive to insects and other pests, these piles pose a fire hazard if they collect around electrical equipment.
Cords, lights, and outlets sometimes give off a significant amount of heat energy. When dry leaves trap this heat, the heat can actually ignite the leaves, creating a fire that can quickly spread to your home or building.
Prevent Electrical Fires
To prevent fires, make sure to keep leaves away from electrical equipment. Rake dry leaves out of your yard, and remove leaves that collect around the base of your house or buildings. Also, do not run cords and cables through leaves. Make sure your cords and cables are free from obstructions.
More importantly, make sure to inspect the cords you’re using. Frayed or otherwise damaged cords are both a fire and shock risk. And they can be less efficient to use if they’re damaged and giving off lots of heat.
Other Sources of Electrical Fires
Deicing cables are another source that can ignite dry leaves. If your deicing cables are activated and leaves are packed around it, the cables can potentially light the leaves on fire, which will quickly spread across your roof. If your home or business has deicing cables, make sure to inspect them regularly and contact an electrician if they’re damaged or if you’re otherwise concerned.
Pine needles, sometimes called “Pine Straw” if used purposefully for landscaping, is also a fire hazard. Fires have been linked to pine needles when they’re used for landscaping around the base of buildings. Pine needles ignite much more easily than hardwood mulch and burn faster, shooting up flames high enough to lite siding on fire.
If you use pine needles for landscaping, never run cables or lights across it. Make sure your cables only run over nonflammable materials.