You may be surprised to know that the number of electricity-related accidents has been rising steadily year over year. Even though electricity is commonplace, there is still quite a bit of danger associated with improper use. By carefully observing safety measures you will be able to keep yourself and your family safe. Being safe when using electrical appliances, extension cords, and light bulbs is easy, and the following safety tips should be included in every household’s rules. With a little practice and knowledge, every member of the family will be able to exercise sound judgment around electricity.
Don’t overload your outlets
Overloading an electrical outlet is a common cause of electrical problems. Every outlet in your home is designed as a part of a larger circuit to deliver a specific amount of electricity. When you plug too many devices into a single outlet at once, you risk overheating the wires. The extreme temperatures can result in insulation melting and causing a fire or short-circuit inside the wall. If you need more outlets, use a surge-protecting power strip. The use of extension cords on a regular basis may mean that you don’t have enough outlets for your needs. Have a qualified electrician install additional outlets in rooms where you often use extension cords. The following electrical outlet safety tips are recommended by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
- Do not use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances.
- Only plug one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.
- Hot outlets should be checked by qualified electricians.
- Check all outlets to ensure they are cool to the touch and have protective faceplates.
- Smart plugs can be used to monitor outlet power loads and even shut off appliances should an outlet begin to overheat.
Replace or repair damaged power cords
Damaged power cords are a serious residential electrical safety risk, and they are capable of causing both fires and electrocution. Electrical malfunction is the leading cause of residential building fires. All power and extension cords should be checked regularly for signs of fraying and cracking, and they should then be repaired or replaced as needed. If you see the protective coating on a wire is stripped away, be sure to replace it or cover it with electrical tape as soon as possible. Be sure to unplug any lamp or appliance before working on it. Power cords should never be run under rugs and furniture. Cords under rugs pose a tripping hazard and can overheat. Heavy furniture can weaken cord insulation and damage wires.
- Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the device being used.
- Never nail or staple an extension cord.
- Do not substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
Dealing with light bulbs may seem simple but keep in mind that they combine electricity, glass, and heat. No matter how common they may be, light bulbs require proper handling to keep them from becoming a serious electrical hazard. The first thing you need to do is to turn the power off. The best way to do this is to go to your fusebox and find the fuse that corresponds area of the home where the light will be changed. Once the bulb is cool to the touch, make sure to replace it with one that is similar to the original. The most important aspect to keep in mind is the wattage of the light fixture. A bulb with less power will give off a weak light while a bulb with higher wattage can be hazardous. The bulb will try to absorb more energy than the fixture can handle, resulting in much higher temperatures and the potential for a fire hazard.
- Always install the correct lamp for your fitting.
- Always screw bulbs in tightly; a loose bulb can cause sparks or shorts.
- Unplug or turn off a fixture completely before changing light bulbs.
Protect small children from hazards
Curiosity is a natural part of childhood learning, but it can be extremely dangerous when it comes to electricity. Toddlers and small children love to explore power cords and outlets. Parents of small children should put tamper-resistant safety caps on all unused electrical outlets to prevent foreign objects from being inserted. In addition, all loose cords should be tidied up and put out of reach to avoid kids tugging on them. Keep stored cords away from children and pets (who may chew on or play with the cords). Try to avoid wrapping cords tightly around objects. This can stretch the cord or cause overheating. Never rest a cord on a hot surface in order to prevent damage to the cord’s insulation and wires.
- Never use anything with a cord or plug around water
- Never pull a plug out by its cord
- Never fly kites near power lines
Electricity is so common and necessary in our lives that we tend to take it for granted, but using it safely is extremely important. Following these basic electrical safety tips can help you avoid serious electrical issues or injuries. Even though most of the safety and preventive measures can be done on your own, you must not attempt to fix electrical components if you are not qualified. Instead, call a certified electrician for all of your residential electrical needs.