Tips for Electrical Safety
Electrical Safety Stats
Electrical safety is no laughing matter, although Youtube might try to say otherwise. Electricity related fatalities are the seventh leading cause of death in the workplace. While these fatalities are on a downward trend, there were still 134 deaths by electrocution in the US in 2015 (source). Non-fatal electrocutions totaled almost 2,500. With stats like these, it’s easy to see why electrical safety matters. Our friends at Kendrick Electric shared with us some good safety tips to help you keep out of trouble.
You have to be careful with cords. Damaged cords not only risk shocking you, but can also cause fires. Fortunately, there are some simple safety procedures you can follow to avoid trouble.
First, when unplugging a cord, always pull from the plug, never the cord itself. Pulling the cord puts stress on the wiring and can tear it. This will not only put you at risk from shock, but will also shorten the life of your cords.
Second, always use a three-pronged plug where possible. Electricity always tries to ground itself and will seek the most direct path to the earth. The purpose of the third prong is to provide proper grounding to help prevent you from being that conduit. Do not tamper with, bypass, or in any way damage or remove the third prong, or you risk a nasty surprise the next time you try to use an appliance.
Third, know how to use extension cords. Extension cords are rated for certain amounts of electricity. Be sure you know how much power a cord can safely handle. Never run extension cords through doors, under carpets, near sources of heat or water, or in any other place where they might get stepped on, scraped, or damaged. Remember, extension cords are meant as a temporary solution. If you need a more permanent fix, call in professionals to help you work one out.
Finally, store cords safely. If you are not using a cord, put it away somewhere safe and dry. Before putting them away, make sure they aren’t cracked or frayed. Coil the cords up loosely and keep the coil in place with a Velcro snap or plastic tie. This will help prevent them from getting damaged while in storage. It will also keep them out of your way while walking around the storage area.
Appliances are the number one cause of shocks in the home. It’s important to understand how to use them if you want to avoid accidents. Read the instructions on your appliances carefully.
Always unplug an appliance before you attempt to do anything inside of it, such as when toast gets stuck in a toaster. The insides of your appliances have many electrical components. If left plugged in, these components will shock you. You should also unplug devices that you are not using. This not only saves you money, but also could save your life.
Water is one of the best conductors of electricity and that makes it dangerous. Do not put appliances near sources of water. This could short them out, causing sparks that could harm you, or start a fire. If an appliance gets wet, the chances of it shocking you increase dramatically. If you use an electric powered lawn mower, only use it when the grass is dry. Do not take any chances with water.
Before you change a light bulb, make sure the wattage is appropriate for the lighting fixture. If the wattage isn’t right, the bulb may flicker, or may burn out quickly. If you hear a sizzling, or loud buzzing sound from any electrical device, shut it off immediately and take it to an electrician for repairs.
Panels and Fuses
A fuse is a safety device to protect from overloads and short circuits. It is built with a metal wire designed to melt if too much power flows through it. This shuts down the circuit it’s attached to, limiting the amount of damage an overload or short can cause. Like all electrical devices, there are important safety procedures to follow.
If a fuse blows, turn off all appliances and lights on the circuit before attempting to replace it. Use a flashlight when replacing the fuse so that you can see what you’re doing. Only replace a fuse with another fuse of identical rating; never use a coin, or other metal object. Make sure the fuse is snuggly installed, as loose fuses can overheat and cause fires.
These may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often people make these mistakes. Any one of these mistakes could lead to painful, even fatal electric shock, or start a fire. Don’t risk your safety. If you have any doubt about your ability to fix the problem, call an electrician to help you.
Outlets connect directly to the electrical circuits of the house. They can be very dangerous if used improperly. They can be overloaded, damaged, or simply pose a threat to the questing fingers of toddlers.
Put safety caps on all unused outlets. These will prevent small children from sticking their fingers, or objects into them. They can also help you save energy on heating by stopping cold air from coming in through them. If the cover on an outlet gets damaged, replace it immediately.
Never overload outlets. Many people try to use a single outlet to power too many devices. They create labyrinthine bundles of adaptors, power strips and electrical cords. Overloading sockets like this, especially by using power strips, causes many electrical fires. If the power strip isn’t rated for the amperage of the circuit, it overheats. This melts cord, spilling super-hot liquid plastic onto your flammable carpet and exposing the wires inside. If you must use a power strip, be sure it’s one with an internal circuit breaker. To be safe, make sure the cords you plug into it are rated for 20 amps. This will help avoid overloading the power strip. Check your power strip regularly to make sure it isn’t warm. Power strips are not supposed to get warm. If they do, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong.
And never – NEVER – plug a power strip into another power strip. This is known as “daisy-chaining,” and will overload the circuit every time.
Don’t Take Chances
Electrical safety should never be taken lightly. If you suspect there’s a problem, you need to fix it right away. The longer you ignore a problem, the more chance it has to cause a fatal shock, or start a fire. While some problems can be fixed yourself, don’t be too quick to take risks. If you have any doubt in your ability to fix a problem, call in a professional, like Kendrick Electric. Electricians are trained to spot and repair these problems and know how to avoid the dangers. A single phone call can save you the risk of loss of life and property. If you follow the electrical safety tips above, you shouldn’t have to worry. You can rest easy knowing your house is safe and secure.