Electricity is your home’s primary source of energy. You often use it to run the air conditioning system, charge your phones and computers, power microwaves and refrigerators, and light your house. However, when improperly managed or used, you could overwork the system or cause electrical hazards. For this reason, everyone must familiarize themselves with how to stay safe when dealing with electrical appliances to prevent falls, burns, electric shock, and death. In this article, we highlight seven electrical safety tips for your home to protect your family.
1. Leave all electrical repairs to a professional
While it can be tempting to handle electrical repairs independently, it is best to leave the work to a professional. Tripped circuits, flickering lights, sparks, and rubbery or burning odors often signal a more major electrical problem that only a trained electrician can fix. Handling electrical repairs without the necessary training can also result in severe repercussions, including electric shock, burns, and, worse, death.
2. Replace damaged extension cords promptly
Once the extension cords start to show wear and tear, you should replace them instead of trying to fix them. Using damaged cables could result in sparks, electrical fires, and surges. The following are more electrical safety tips for your extension cords:
- Ensure all extension cords have power surge protectors. You could also invest in switches and disconnects to ensure a steady power flow and prevent electrocution.
- Do not run extension cords under carpets or rugs. Running cords under carpets could cause tripping accidents, not to mention causing the wires to fray or break. A broken extension cord can cause electrical fires or shock.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets with so many plugs, as this could cause overheating and sparks.
- Do not double up. Doubling up involves joining two extension cords together to achieve the desired length.
- Use the right extension type for the job
- Schedule routine inspections
3. Unplug unused appliances
One of the simplest ways to protect your home against electrical hazards is by unplugging appliances when they are not in use. This protects the devices during power surges, among other electrical mishaps. Unplugging unused appliances can also reduce your electricity bill by lowering phantom drain (the energy amount your appliances consume even when they are not in use). It is easy to forget to unplug appliances. Consider investing in intelligent plugs to set power schedules for your outlets.
4. Keep electrical appliances away from water sources
Be sure to keep electrical sources and appliances, including clothes washers, blenders, irons, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, coffee pots, and dishwashers, at least five feet away from water sources. You should also choose cleaning materials carefully. Steel wool, solvent and water-based cleaning materials, and metalized clothes are good electrical conductors, so they should not be used on live electric wires and appliances.
You could also install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) on all electrical outlets near water sources. GFCIs can shut off power quickly if a short circuit is detected, protecting your home from electrical hazards.
5. Provide your appliances with adequate space for air circulation
Poor air circulation causes electrical appliances to short out and overheat, which could result in an electrical fire hazard. For this reason, you should ensure all your electrical devices have adequate air circulation. You should also not run electrical equipment in an enclosed cabinet.
Be sure to store flammable objects away from electronics and appliances to ensure electrical safety. The electric dryer and gas should also be kept at least one foot away from the walls to operate safely.
6. Use the correct wattage for lighting fixtures and lamps
Bulbs come with a sticker that indicates the recommended wattage. Use the recommended watts to keep your lighting fixtures shining safely. You could also use a globe or shade with a lamp to prevent any items closer to the light fixture from overheating. Alternatively, you could invest in LEDs to reduce heat energy wastage.
7. Invest in power strips
An excellent way to protect your home from electrical hazards is by plugging appliances, including computers and televisions, into surge-protected power strips. This ensures that in case lightning strikes electrical wires, it will not damage your property. Turning off the power strips when not using appliances plugged into them can also help cut energy bills.
Keeping your family and possession safe is paramount. Be sure to leave electrical repairs to an electrician, unplug unused appliances, replace damaged cords, and invest in power strips to prevent electrical hazards and reduce electrical bills.