According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 48,000 house fires caused by electrical failures or malfunctions were reported annually between 2007 and 2011. There is a lot of truth behind the old saying that safety begins in the home. Here are some tips on how to ensure and make sure you implement electrical safety in your home.
Electrical Cords & Outlets
If you have any damaged or loose electrical cords in your home, either repair or replace them. Unless you absolutely have to use them, eliminate the use of extension cords in your home. Most fires during the holidays are either directly or indirectly related to the use of extension cords. Do not overload outlets.
Outlets generally have only two holes in them, and the reason is because two electrical items are all that should be plugged in them at one time. If you feel the need to constantly use extension cords, it would benefit you to have a professional install additional outlets in your home. Plugs that don’t fit into an outlet should never be forced.
Don’t Overload Your System
If you have problems with electrical outlets shutting off, fuses blowing or circuits flipping, stop using that outlet until you have a qualified electrician evaluate the situation. It may be something as simple as needing a larger circuit, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If the switches or the outlets feel warm to the touch, this can also be a sign of a problem. Make sure your home is equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), particularly in rooms with heavy electrical use such as bathrooms, kitchens and garages.
If you have children in your home, teach them electrical safety at a young age. Teach them to respect electrical appliances. Educate them on the dangers of sticking their fingers into outlets, toasters or similar appliances. Also, do not allow radios, DVD players or other electrical devices in the bathroom where they risk falling or getting knocked into sinks or bathtubs filled with water.
Children should be taught at a young age that water and electricity do not mix. If you frequently have young children in your home, use outlet covers or plugs to protect children from putting the wrong things in the outlets.
Inspect Your Home
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises inspecting your home every six months to make sure there are no electrical hazards in the home or in nearby outdoor areas such as garage, sheds or pools. They recommend inspecting the following items.
- Lights – Make sure proper wattage light bulbs are used.
- Portable Electrical Heating Equipment – Make sure heaters are stable, in good working order and placed far enough away from combustible materials.
- Electrical Adapters – Make sure three-prong adapters are used when needed.
- Electrical Cords – Make sure they’re all in good shape, not overloaded and are not under carpets or hung from the walls.
- Electrical Outlets and Switches – Make sure all outlets and switches are in good working condition, cool to the touch and protected with safety covers.
- Counter-top Appliances – All counter-top appliances should be unplugged when not being used, away from the sink and located where they will not be in contact with hot surfaces.
- Electrical blankets – Make sure electrical blankets are laid flat, unplugged when not being used and have no loose, bent or frayed wires.
Safety really does start right in the home and includes educating every family member about electrical safety. When inspecting your home for any electrical problems, go through every room of your home. A problem that may not have been there six months ago may now be an electrical hazard and a fire just waiting to happen.