How To Keep Your Home Safe From Electrical Hazards
Your home is you where you seek safety from the world and is a place where you relax and unwind with family and friends.
Unfortunately, hidden dangers may be lurking behind the walls that threaten your safety and your loved ones.
That’s why it’s essential to keep it safe from electrical hazards.
In 2014-2018, electrical distribution or lighting equipment, such as wiring, lighting, cords, and plugs, was involved in an estimated average of roughly 34,000 (10%) reported home structure fires per year.
These incidents caused an average of 470 (18%) civilian deaths, 1,100 civilian injuries (10%), and $1.4 billion (19%) in direct property damage annually.
Source – National Fire Protection Association
However, you can do a few things to safeguard your home from dangerous electrical hazards.
May Is National Electrical Safety Month, homeowners should conduct an inspection of their home and outdoor areas as part of their regular spring-cleaning projects.
Don’t Mix Water and Electricity
When To Use a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)
First, use GFCI-protected outlets with weatherproof covers on all pool pumps, hot tubs, and outdoor appliances that require electricity.
A good rule of thumb – If it’s close to water, it requires a GFCI. This is actually required by the electrical code. Learn other electrical code requirements by room.
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) protect you from dangerous electrical shock. A GFCI detects when current is leaking from an electrical circuit to ground and automatically disconnect power at the electrical outlet.
GFCIs have saved thousands of lives since their introduction in 1972.
When choosing a GFCI, it’s vital to ensure the device is stamped with the UL logo.
Also, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or any other place around the house with a water source within six feet of the receptacle need GFCI protection.
Even if the room isn’t a wet location, you may be damp. Don’t work with electricity in an area with a wet floor. Don’t so much as change a light bulb with wet hands.
Power Cord and Electrical Outlet Safety
Check all electrical outlets and switches for broken parts, cracks, and loose-fitting plugs. Immediately replace devices that are defective, defective as well as those that feel hot to the touch.
Also, expect all power cords and extension cords regularly.
Replace any that show signs of cracking, fraying, or visible wear or faulty immediately.
Never run extension cords under rugs, carpets, or furniture where damage can hide.
Make sure outlets are not overloaded. A typical household outlet is rated for around 15-20 amps. If you plug too many appliances into one outlet, you can exceed that rating and create a fire or shock hazard.
Always plug the appliance into the extension cord first before you plug the extension cord to the outlet when you use an extension cord.
Speaking of extension cords, let’s talk about another major cause of electrical fires.
Don’t Overload Power Strips.
It’s not uncommon to see power strips used in both offices and homes.
Remember, these are usually designed for low power usages, such as computers and other electronics.
Often we see high-current electrical appliances such as space heaters, microwaves, toasters, ovens, and pumps plugged into a power strip.
Don’t do this; this can overload the power strip and cause your circuit breakers to trip, or even electrical fires due to overheating.
Offices, houses, and lab areas frequently have multiple outlet power strips (surge protectors, temporary power taps, plug strips, etc.).
Power strips and surge protectors are designed for low power loads such as computers and similar electronics.
If you plug high-current devices such as space heaters, microwaves, toasters, ovens, and pumps into a power strip, overloading can occur and cause breakers to trip or even electrical fires due to overheating.
Use the following precautions when using power strips:
- The power strip must be listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). A logo such as “UL” or “CSA” is commonly found on the data plate.
- Do not connect power strips, commonly known as “daisy-chaining”.
- Do not use power strips with extension cords.
- DO NOT exceed the load rating of the power strip. The majority of 120-volt power strips are rated at a maximum cord and plug load of 12 amps. Nearly all appliances and lab equipment list the wattage and voltage on the data plate.
If you plug just a few large appliances into a power strip will quickly exceed its maximum load. For example, a 1,100-watt coffee maker and a 1300-watt toaster will have a combined load of 19.8 amps, which exceeds the power strip load of 12 amps.
Always plug high current equipment such as space heaters, microwaves, refrigerators, ovens, pumps, and furnaces directly into a wall outlet.
If a power strip is damaged or shows evidence of overheating, take it out of service immediately.
Unfortunately, some electrical hazards aren’t DIY fixes and require you to hire a professional for the electrical work.
That’s why we’re here.
If you’re in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and need an experienced contractor to perform any electrical services, we’d be happy to discuss your needs and do our best to meet them.
Contact us today for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn how to select the right electrician for your project.