Electrical safety tips all homeowners should know
We rely on electricity to keep virtually every appliance and system in our homes running smoothly day in and day out. However, this necessary utility can also create significant safety hazards if not treated with the appropriate respect. The following electrical safety tips can help keep you and your family protected at home.
- Cover outlets to protect young children. Small children are naturally curious, and electrical outlets are often too tempting to ignore. Cover unused outlets by rearranging large furniture, using plastic caps and covers, or switching to spring-loaded outlets that automatically cover themselves when not in use. Likewise, ensure cords for lamps, gaming systems, and other electronic devices are hidden and out of reach.
- Don’t overload outlets. Individual outlets are only designed to put out a certain amount of energy; plugging too many high-wattage devices into a single outlet can overload the outlet and lead to an electrical fire. Avoid using multi-outlet converters which artificially allow more devices to be plugged in. Major appliances such as refrigerators or stoves should be plugged into separate outlets whenever possible.
- Extension cords are not meant to be permanent. Extension cords are a helpful tool both outdoors and indoors to get power away from the outlets and directly to where you need it. However, they are not designed to be used for long periods of time or as a permanent solution to an out-of-reach outlet. Instead, call an electrician to have a more convenient outlet location installed.
- Look out for warm outlets. Outlets that feel warm to the touch or those that continually cause the circuit breaker to flip are a warning sign of an electrical problem. Call an electrician to repair any bad connections; left unrepaired they can lead to shock hazards or fire.
- Prepare for an electrical fire. While an electrical fire is a worst-case scenario, it’s important to know what to do in case one occurs. Electrical fires should never be put out with water; doing so can lead to electrocution and further damage. Instead, place A-B-C rated fire extinguishers [http://www.brkelectronics.com/faqs/oem/what-do-the-abc-ratings-mean-on-fire-extinguishers] on each level of your home; these specific fire extinguishers are designed to be used on electrical fires.