Overloading a risk

DURING the past three years 25% of structure fires were the result of electrical faults, according to the New Zealand Fire Service.
Electricity is energy, and due to equipment failure, maintenance issues or incorrect use of equipment, that energy becomes the source of heat which in turn ignites nearby combustible
materials. This can lead to substantial structure damage.
Common causes include multiboxes, which are multiple electrical sockets mounted into aportable case. They can be cheap to purchase and are a ready fix for powering multiple appliances at the same time. However, it has been found that fires have resulted from overloaded multi-boxes.
It is important to read the instructions when purchasing such equipment as these will provide a guide as to the safe, maximum electrical load that can be placed on the multi-box.
These units are ideal for powering TVs, stereos, computers and other appliances which consume minimal power. They should not be used for supplying electricity to heavy load appliances such as heaters, dryers, washing machines or stoves.
Problems can also be found where plugs have been incorrectly inserted into the socket. This often occurs when different appliances are plugged in and removed on a regular basis. The contacts can become damaged. The result is localised heating around the contacts leading to melting and ignition of the plastic cover on the multibox.
Overloaded power points can result in the same problems. Four-way switched socket outlets can be fitted permanently, providing four power outlets and eliminating the need for multi-boxes. Be sure to consult a qualified electrician and have them install the units correctly.
Extensions cords are atemporary solution and should never be used as a permanent fix. Make sure cords are in good condition. Check for damaged or exposed wiring.
Ensure your threepin plugs are inserted correctly and pushed home completely.
Winter also brings about greater use of electricity. If you’re using electric heaters remember to plug them directly into a wall socket.
Also remember the heater/ metre rule — don’t have any combustible material within 1m of your fireplace, gas heater or electric heater.
— Supplied