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Tackling Electrical Safety at Home

Learning how to properly set up and manage the wiring of your home as well as your electrical system and devices can make a huge difference in how efficiently electricity is working for your home. It can also help prevent accidents and keep you and your family safe.

Electric maintenance is an important requisite in our household but can be very dangerous if handled callously. We run our air conditioning constantly, use refrigerators, microwaves, and indoor lighting, and charge computers, phones, and other devices daily. Now, more than ever, it’s easier to mismanage our energy use and appliances at home, which could either overwork our system or even create an electrical accident. Most of the electricity-related accidents that occur in homes are due to a lack of knowledge of electrical safety and know-how.

Many of us are working or spending more time at home in general. Following these basic electrical safety tips can help you avoid serious electrical issues or injuries. They’ll also help you save energy and money on your utility bill too.

Here are some tips to prevent accidents and electrical oversights:

All electrical equipment should be in proper working condition

One of the primary causes for short circuits in the electrical system is equipment that is not working or plugged in properly. Hence, all the electrical equipment in the house should be checked for malfunctions.

Check Main Power

Power switched on during any work on the home’s electrical system can be a major reason for shocks and accidents. Always switch off the main power during major electrical maintenance activities. In case of small power outlet-related maintenance, always switch off the plug point and work.

Warm and Cold Power Outlets

At times, warm power outlets can signal a variety of problems, from an overloaded electrical circuit to shot-up wiring. Hence, check all the outlets in the house once every month by placing your hand on the outlets in your home. Warm or hot outlets signal trouble.

Fire Extinguisher

Always have a fire extinguisher handy in the house. Water is a good conductor of electricity and hence should never be used to put out any electric fire, big or small.

Ground Older Appliances

Your old appliances might develop grounding issues as a result of normal wear and tear. This can put you at risk of shock. Ensure all of your appliances have three-pronged plugs that can properly connect to a grounded outlet. Any kitchen appliances with just two-pronged plugs should be replaced.

Rooms with running water need to be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

GFCI’s shut off the electrical current from a circuit whenever it detects that the circuit has become a shock hazard. They must be installed in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room to avoid any mishaps.

Avoid overloading outlets

Make sure your outlet isn’t overloaded with too many devices and appliances using adapters and extension cords. Additionally, only one heat-producing device should be plugged into an outlet at a time (coffee maker, hair dryer, etc.) and refrigerators, ovens, laundry machines, and other major appliances should be plugged straight into the wall and not an adapter or extension cord.

Unplug appliances when not in use

Not only will unplugging appliances prevent you from using unnecessary energy, but it could also help protect your appliances from surges and other electrical mishaps.

Use the proper wattage for lamps and lighting fixtures

The recommended wattage is what keeps your lamps shining safely. There should be a sticker indicating the maximum wattage of the bulb needed. Using the right bulbs can prevent electrical problems, so check all lamps, fixtures, and appliances to ensure you’re using the correct wattage. If a light fixture has no wattage listed, use 60-watt bulbs or less. For unmarked ceiling fixtures, choose 25-watt bulbs. Lamps should also be used with a shade or globe to prevent other items from heating up if they’re too close to the bulb – particularly if you’re using incandescent bulbs. LEDs are a great way to light up a room without all the wasted heat energy.

Space for air circulation

Without proper air circulation, electrical equipment can overheat and short out and can become an electrical fire hazard. Make sure your appliances have proper air circulation and avoid running electrical equipment in enclosed cabinets. For best electrical safety, it’s also important to store flammable objects well away from all appliances and electronics. Pay especially close attention to your gas or electric dryer, as these need to be situated at least a foot from the wall to function safely.

Never run cords under carpets, rugs, doors, or windows

Running cords throughout your house can cause tripping hazards as well as invite electrical accidents when they’re consistently out in the open. And a cord under a rug or carpet is a fire hazard. If you find you’re using extension cords regularly, consult your electrician about adding new outlets around your home within reach of the things you need to plug in.

Get rid of damaged extension cords

Making sure you’re using the correct extension cord for the environment and circumstance will help prolong the lifespan of your cords, but they’re meant to be replaced as needed. Instead of trying to fix damaged cords, updating or upgrading your extension cords when they’re not working properly will help prevent sparks, surges, and electrical fires. Your extension cords should also have surge protectors.

Placement of heaters and water heaters

Combustible items should be kept away from portable heaters and built-in furnaces. For furnace safety, store combustibles far away from any heating appliances. Portable heaters should not be operated close to drapes, and to prevent tipping, they should only ever be placed on a stable surface.

Expert Intervention

In case of any doubt, one should consider the help of an expert. Electrical work is hazardous if not handled properly. Professional electricians receive years of training and on-the-job experience before they start their careers as one. Use discretion when attempting your electrical work. To make sure all the electrical systems in your home are safe, up to code, and working as they should hire a trusted electrician to handle the job.

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