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Don’t Forget the Power Outlets When Doing the Big End-of-Year Cleanup!

Roberto has come to Junko’s house. He is there to help her with the big end-of-year cleanup.

Don’t Forget the Power Outlets When Doing the Big End-of-Year Cleanup!

Roberto

Junko, I’ve finished wiping the windows. What’s next on the menu?

Junko

Let me see. Next could I ask you to clean the power outlets and the plugs?

Roberto

Really, the power outlets and the plugs? Is it really necessary to be so detailed?

Junko

What? You are aware that rather unexpectedly many fires are caused by tracking burns involving power outlets?

Roberto

Tracking burns?

Junko

Yes, “tracking burns” refers to the little bits of dust that manage to work themselves into the gaps between power outlet sockets and the plugs that are inserted into them. If these bits of dust absorb moisture, a spark can be initiated through a short circuit. I suppose you might ask how many electrical appliances are plugged into a power outlet and then continue to be used without any cleaning? Such a situation is very dangerous because dust deposits can really build up without anybody noticing.

Roberto

If I think about it, there a quite a few appliances in my home that I have left plugged in for long periods of time without doing anything. There’s my refrigerator, my microwave oven, my washing machine and even my TV.

Junko

Power outlets that are particularly susceptible to tracking burns are those located behind pieces of furniture, and those situated in locations that are susceptible to high levels of humidity.

Roberto

High levels of humidity? You mean bathrooms and kitchen areas?

Junko

Yes. You should be especially careful in areas that have access to water. Furthermore, power outlets that are situated in locations where condensation can build up due to the use of air conditioners and heaters are also a risk. To prevent tracking burns from occurring, the best thing is to carry out cleaning at regular intervals. Remove any plugs from the power outlets, and wipe everything down with a dry cloth.

Roberto

I see. I’ll get started from the living room.

Roberto starts cleaning a power outlet situated behind some furniture.

Roberto

Wow! There seems to be a fair accumulation of dust.

Junko

Yes, when cleaning normally, it can be rather difficult to access such areas…

Roberto

I see what you mean. When I go home, I think I will take the time to clean up around the power outlets in my room as well.

Junko

That is a good idea. The scary thing about tracking burns is that your household appliances don’t even have to be operating. Even if they are turned off, if they are plugged into a power outlet, there is a chance of a spark. If something like that happened while you were out or were sleeping, the results could be serious because you wouldn’t see what was happening straight away. Considering that, if household appliances are not being used, where possible it is a good idea to unplug them.

Roberto

I see your point.

Junko

And when cleaning around power outlets it is a good idea to check the electricity cords to make sure they are not caught under furniture or twisted. Lots of fires are also caused by the short circuiting of electricity cords. Furthermore, make sure not to overload power outlets or power strips by plugging in and operating too many appliances from a single source. Doing this can result in the power outlet overheating and a fire resulting.

Roberto

I will also keep that in mind. Getting back to the job at hand, next I’ll clean the power outlets in your kitchen!

Junko

Thank you very much Roberto! You really are being a great help.
■Tokyo Fire Department: Take Care When Cleaning Power Outlets
http://www.tfd.metro.tokyo.jp/lfe/topics/201210/10_kokoroe/chapter06.html (in Japanese only)

■Tokyo Fire Department: Be Very Aware of Fires Caused by Electricity Cords, etc.!
http://www.tfd.metro.tokyo.jp/hp-kouhouka/kts/kts_19/kts05.html (in Japanese only)