Source: Jennifer Rodríguez, Eng., Prysmian Group's research and development leader in Central America and the Caribbean, with information obtained from the Costa Rican Fire Department.
During the dry season, many people take the opportunity to build or remodel their homes. It is also a good time to acknowledge that cables are the first line of protection for the electrical system of a house. Cables receive the current and transport it so the appliances, lightbulbs, and others can work. However, their safety features are rarely paid attention to when new cables are purchased, and they are not properly maintained, although they have been in operation for several years.
Electrical System: The Leading Cause of Home Fires (2021 data, Costa Rican Fire Department)
In Costa Rica, 966 structure fires were registered in 2021, and 95 were investigated. Nearly two-thirds of these investigated fires (66 in total) occurred in a residential structure, and 33 events started in a bedroom. 54 out of 95 fires investigated occurred in a house. The ignition source of almost half of the 95 fires investigated was electrical wires or conductors heat. An electrical system failure was the cause of 38 of the 95 structural fires investigated.
Recommendations to Purchase New Cables (Houses under Construction, Extensions, Repairs, among Others)
• Note that the cable has printed labels on the jacket (plastic cover) that certify its quality. Ask your sales representative or the people responsible for building your home for these guarantees. Some seals that can be identified are UL, Nom – Ance, Cidet, or INTECO.
• The acronym "VW-1" on the label refers to a laboratory test that will be useful to recognize that the cable is flame retardant.
• Get involved directly in the construction or maintenance process of your house's electrical system. Ask all the questions you think are necessary to verify the safety of the entire installation and insist on clear explanations of all wiring installed inside the structure.
• Invest in the best quality cables and consider that this choice can protect your entire home in the long term. Remember that the quality of the cable has nothing to do with its thickness.
• The advice and accompaniment of a qualified professional, such as an electrical engineer or an electrician, is vital for constructing a safe house.
Recommendations for House's Wiring Maintenance (Cables Installed Previously, Structures Already Built)
• Never stop checking. The fact that there are no faults in the electrical system does not mean it does not require checking or maintenance. In times of high electricity demand, for example, the risk of failures or incidents in the system increase.
• Pay attention to the more obvious warning signs, such as fuses getting burned and protection systems (breakers) activation.
• Do not ignore cables that are getting too hot or look roasted, burned, cracked, or discolored. Replace them as soon as possible.
• Ensure that the power outlets have an optimal external appearance and that no changes in color and appearance indicate heat damage.
• Use the power strips responsibly. Do not overcharge them by connecting many appliances or using them with devices unsuitable for their capacity.
• Do not pull the cables to disconnect the appliances. Use the plug to do so instead.
• For any remodeling, consider the advice and accompaniment of a qualified professional, such as an electrical engineer or an electrician.
About Prysmian Group
Prysmian Group is a world leader in the power cable and telecommunications systems industry with almost 140 years of experience, sells more than €10 billion, about 28,000 employees distributed in more than 50 countries and 104 production plants. One of these facilities has been in Costa Rica for over 50 years and has more than 290 employees. Prysmian Group is strongly positioned in high-tech markets and offers the widest possible range of products, services, technologies, and knowledge. It operates in the businesses of underground and underwater cables, systems for power transmission, and distribution of special cables for applications in many different industries. It also works with medium and low-voltage cables for the construction and infrastructure sectors. Prysmian Group manufactures cables and accessories for voice, video, and data transmission for the telecommunications industry, offering a wide range of optical fibers, optical and copper cables, and connectivity systems. Prysmian is a public company listed on the Italian Stock Exchange on the FTSE MIB index.