Electrical energy may be invisible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there – when its power isn’t respected and properly controlled, danger can strike from everyday objects causing severe injury or even death.
Each year about 51,000 fires and nearly 500 deaths are tied to home electrical system problems. For this reason, May is celebrated as National Electrical Safety Month. With numerous electrical safety hazards present in every home, it’s the perfect opportunity to review precautions you can take with your family to reduce the risk of electric shock or fire.
A lot of people use space heaters in their bedrooms at night, especially on nights where they’re reluctant to turn on a home heating system. Space heaters pose a clear risk. One of the simplest solutions is to make sure that a reasonable amount of space is left between the heater and other objects, especially flammable ones. You should unplug your space heater when it’s not in use. Electric blankets also present risks. One simple way to mitigate that risk is to always place the electric blanket on top of bed sheets in order to avoid overheating. Once again, unplugging the device when not in use is also recommended.
Small electrical appliances like hairdryers, electric razors, and toothbrushes may add a lot to our beauty routines, but they also present numerous potential dangers when used in proximity to water. According to this website, the bathroom is actually the most dangerous room in the entire house – every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries that occurred in the bathroom, and nearly 14 percent are hospitalized. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets should be installed in every socket that’s near a source of water. The GFCI is a system that’s designed to kick off the power when an attached appliance gets wet. You should also make a point of keeping appliances such as hair dryers away from water, however tempting it might be to have it close at hand following a shower.
The kitchen is another area where, thanks to the presence of water, GFCI outlets should be everywhere.
Kitchen areas can also quickly become overloaded with operating devices. It’s not unusual for families to have the coffee maker, the toaster and a microwave oven all running at the same time. It’s wise, however, to try not to run all of these machines concurrently, if at all possible. As with other rooms, you should also consider disconnecting power for appliances that are not currently in use. “Vampire” power is not only dangerous but an expensive addition to your bill as it adds up over time.
The ease and comfort we expect in our living rooms can lead to some problems that get ignored. The modern living room has a lot of electronics in it, and that means you should be operating them with surge protectors or suppressors. It’s also a good idea to check your lamps and see whether they’re actually rated for the wattage of bulbs being used in them. You can also scan the room and check for any flickering bulbs, which may be a sign of an electrical failure risk.
Yards and Garages
Life in the yard and the garage often means having to transport power to where you want it. That often entails hooking up extension cords. Extension cord safety begins with making sure that your cords aren’t compromised. You should always check for signs of fraying, nicks or other types of damage to the cord. Likewise, you should never use an extension cord as a permanent power solution. If you need regular access to power in specific part of your yard or garage, have a qualified electrician run proper wiring and outlets in order to get the results you require.
Preventing a serious injury or fire in your home often begins with basic electrical safety measures. Just a few simple, preemptive measures can go a long way towards keeping everyone safe while enjoying the powerful benefits of electrical energy.
Contributing Author: Beth Lisanne is a freelance blogger and researcher. In her free time, she likes fixing old cameras and learning to speak new languages. She was born and raised in Michigan but now resides in Chicago, IL.