Electrical Safety Tips for Home
It is true that electricity is one of the most important things in order for us to live comfortable lives. Despite this, this utility may also cause great harm among us humans, and extensive damage to property. When properly installed, electrical systems will definitely function properly. Consequently, home electrical systems when overloaded or physically battered or abused can cause numerous problems, ranging from appliance defects to deadly house fires.
According to reports, house fires caused by faulty electrical systems are responsible for the death of up to 485 lives as well as 2,305 injuries in the United States alone. A small chunk of these house fires were caused electrical failures as well as defective appliances. Majority of electricity-related house fires are caused by improper maintenance, misuses, and poor maintenance practices when dealing with electrical appliances. Problems such as incorrect installation of electrical wirings as well as overloading of circuity and extension cords were identified as other causes of home fires too.
Here are electrical safety guidelines that all homeowners should remember and implement:
- To ensure maximum protection of circuity, always make sure to use the proper type of fuse.
- Identify overloaded circuitry and take measures to correct them.
- Make sure than extension cords are not placed under rugs as this is known to be a probable start of fire.
- Outlets of appliances that are located near water such as kitchens and bathrooms, should feature GFCI-type in nature.
- Always make sure that nobody climbs the trees that are near power lines.
- Keep equipment such as ladders, and toys such as kites away from overhead power lines to prevent electrocution.
The electrical energy that enter the home first goes through the control panel which functions as the main switch wherein power can be opened and shut off. Electrical panels are usually placed in the basement of a home. These equipment often use circuit brakers or fuses to operate. It is important that you install the right type of fuse for the panel. Do not use high-numbered or heavy-duty fuse or a metallic penny in place as this will cause faulty electrical problems.
Once the fuse is all used up, and electrical outage occurs, homeowners should look for the broken metal strip that is located on top of a blown fuse. Immediately replace the fuse with a new one featuring the correct amperage. You may then rest the circuit breaks from off to on to resume the delivery of electricity at home.
Homeowners should also make it a point to discover why a fuse or circuit blew up in the first place. The most possible factors that may have attributed to these problems are as follows:
- Overloaded outlets
- Defective appliances
- Frayed wires
With all these probable causes, it is then important that homeowners should realize the importance of not overloading the circuit with high-wattage appliances and devices. Therefore, it is crucial that homeowners check the wattage whenever buying appliances.
In the case of frayed insulation or a broken wire, one must repair these problems with the help of a professional. You may also need to replace the appliances or wirings to prevent the incidence of fires. Seek the services of an expert electrician if you experience regular power outages, or for the repair of frayed and broken wires.
Outlets and Extension Cords
Make sure that all electrical outlets at home are three-hole grounded receptacles to ensure safety. For areas where water is being used or is present, make sure to install a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet to avoid electrocution. Outdoor outlets should all be GFCIs. Make sure that your home feature ample electrical capacity so equipment operate smoothing without having to worry about trip fuses blowing out and tripping circuit breakers. If possible, minimize the use of extension cords, and never allow them to be placed under rugs. Ideally, extension cords should only be used when necessary. They should also be checked periodically to ensure they are running properly. Always place safety plugs in outlets that are not in use.
Electrical appliances should always be handled properly and be treated with utmost care. Bear in mind that they should be placed in areas with adequate ventilation. Never place them inside closed cabinets. Make sure that appliances are secured and leveled on smooth, flat surfaces. This is due to the fact that unnecessary movement or stress of appliances may result in electrical malfunction.
Appliances that utilize water such as washers and dryers should be inspected regularly. If and when you experience a tingling shock when in contact with an appliance, immediately turn it off and unplug form the main outlet. Make sure to have it checked by a licensed professional to identify and resolve the problem. Remember that shocks can be fatal, and non-resolution may result in injuries, fire, and even death. Never place metal objects into appliances when they are turned on.
It should be routine to check appliances for possible problems such as loose terminals, corroded wires, defective components, and cracked up insulation. Not only will these defects render appliances to work improperly, but may also lead to fires and other fatal accidents. Have a qualified professional repair defects, or have them replaced altogether to minimize the risk of accidents, injuries, and fires at home.
- Electrical Heating Systems
- A great alternative to home heating systems is the use of portable electrical heating devices. Utmost caution must be taken when using these equipment at home. Keep them as far away as possible from combustibles, and make sure that they are not tipped over while in operation. Make use of portable heating equipment in dry places, and never use them in wet or damp areas such as in bathrooms and kitchen sinks, as this may result in electrocution when it comes in contact with water.
- If you are using electrical blankets at home, make sure to check them periodically to avoid unnecessary accidents such as burns and electrocution. Regularly check the wiring for breaks and cracks. Make sure to check the surface of the blanker for charred spots, as this may mean overheating problems. Never fold the blanket as this may result in the bending of coils and overheating.
Electricity is an important utility around the home, but it can also pose serious danger to children. Consider the safety needs of your children. First, you need to teach your children the importance of safety when dealing with electrical appliances. Safety measures that you can implement at home to ensure that your children are kept safe from incurring injuries and accidents:
- Install safety plugs into unused outlets.
- Install face plates on all electrical outlets at home.
- Show kids how to safely and properly place things into electrical outlets
- Always make sure that electrical wiring boxes are locked and out of reach of children
- Keep a close eye of your children when playing outdoors. Make sure that they do not come in close contact with power lines. Do not allow them to climb up trees that are near utility poles, high tension towers, and power lines
Water and electricity
The human body may potentially act like a lightning rod as it can carry electrical current to the ground. In addition, our bodies are known to be excellent conductors of electricity, especially when we are standing in water or on top of a wet or damp floor. With this in mind, do not use electrical appliances while in the tub or shower, as this may lead to serious injuries, or even death. Never touch electrical cords or appliances with a damp or wet pair of hands. In addition, do not use electrical devices in wet areas, as this may also lead to sudden electric shocks. For areas where water is used or is constantly present, only make use of appliances with GFCI cords.
- Animal hazards
There are cases wherein damaged and worn out electrical wires are caused by rodents chewing on electrical wires and appliances. If you suspect the presence of rodents inside the home and within the property, take the necessary actions to get rid of them. You may see the services of pest control and extermination professionals to remedy the problem.
- Outdoor hazards
Electrical hazards are not only present indoors, but also outside the home. Here are some of them:
- Overhead and underground power line. To avoid electrocution, make sure to keep away from these sources. Do not fly kites near power lines, as this may lead to unfortunate accidents as well. Objects such as metal poles and ladders should not be placed in contact with overhead power lines too.
- Never plant trees or tall shrubbery near underground and overhead power lines.
- Do not plan to install or construct a swimming pool underneath an existing power line that supplies energy inside your home. Identify the location of power lines, so you can safely locate swimming pools or similar structures within the property.
- Do not attempt to transmission towers or power poles.
- Do not throw objects or shoot stones at insulators.
- If your pet or an animal is trapped up in a tree or nearby electrical lines, make sure to phone your utility company to facilitate a safe rescue.
- When working outdoors, be aware of the weather conditions so you don’t end up electrocuting yourself. Do not use power tools or electrical equipment outdoors while raining or on damp or wet areas.
- Only use GFCI equipment and lighting for the outdoors.
- If your neighborhood has one or more downed power line, immediately contact the electrical company.
- In the unfortunate even that your car gets hit by a power line, never attempt to go out of the car, unless the vehicle starts catching fire. In the case of fire, make sure to jump out without coming in contact with its metal components.
Other electrical safety tips that you should follow:
- Perform routine check on electrical wirings and appliances inside and outside the home.
- Obtain the services of an InterNACHi inspection to check on your electrical needs. These professionals boast extensive training and are highly knowledgeable of ways on how you can reduce chances of encountering electrical problems at home.
- It is best to replace frayed wires and worn out appliances with damaged cords to avoid fires.
- Use electrical cords sparingly, and never overload them when in use.
- Make sure that electrical appliances are stored and placed away from wet floors and damp counters. Practice extreme caution when using electrical appliances in the kitchen and bathroom spaces.
- Keep a close eye on your children and never allow them to pay with or near dangerous electrical appliances such as space heaters, irons, and hair dryers to name a few.
- Combustible items such as clothes and curtains should be placed at least three feet away from heating systems.
- Only insert a three-prong cord into a three-slot outlet. Do not attempt to force it into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Never overload extension cords and wall sockets as this may cause the tripping of the circuit breaker or fuses blowing out.
- Use safety tools and devices to childproof electrical outlets. Always place safety plugs into outlets when not in use.
- Routinely check electrical tools and equipment for signs of wear and tear. Signs of fraying, cracking should prompt you to replace them altogether. Immediately replace any electrical tools if they cause even the smallest electrical shocks, or encounter problems such as overheating. Sparks and giving off smoke should also prompt you to unplug and throw out defective appliances.
To prevent accidents and injuries as a result of electrocution, homeowners should strictly follow all tips listed above. For more guidelines, you may also obtain the services of a Home Inspection All Star.