Electrical safety, especially when it comes to outlets, plugs, and extension cords, should be a top priority in every household. Did you know that U.S. fire departments tackle an average of 33,000 electrical fires or malfunctions annually? The good news is that you can take measures to prevent such incidents in your own home.
Today’s market offers safer electrical options, from tamper-resistant receptacles to GFCI (Ground Fault Current Interrupter) outlets. Let’s dive into some safety tips to keep in mind when dealing with your home’s electrical systems.
Outlet Safety Tips:
- If your home, built before 1965, features two-pronged outlets, you may be missing the added safety of the three-pronged outlets found in newer constructions. These modern outlets come with a hot, neutral, and ground wire. Consider upgrading, especially if your older outlets show signs of wear like cracks, damages, or paint overspray.
- Always turn off appliances before unplugging. This prevents a “hot unplug,” which can produce an arc, posing a fire risk.
- For homes with children, tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles are a must. They come with a spring-loaded shield that prevents curious little fingers from accessing the electrical contacts.
- When plugging in any appliance, always read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Avoid plugging multiple high-wattage or heat-producing appliances, like toasters or coffee makers, into the same outlet.
- GFCIs are essential in areas like kitchens, bathrooms, or anywhere water might come in contact with electrical equipment. These devices can prevent severe shocks.
- Consider having arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) installed. They protect against fires resulting from arcing and sparking in home wiring.
Power and Extension Cord Safety Tips:
- Keep in mind that damaged power cords can be fire hazards, and extension cords are meant for temporary use only. If you find yourself relying on them often, consider having more circuits or outlets installed.
- Address any damaged or loose electrical cords immediately. They can lead to electrical shocks or even fires.
- Major appliances and extension cords don’t mix. Always plug them directly into an outlet.
- Avoid running extension cords under carpets.
Other Safety Tips:
- Items like towels or scarves should never be placed over lamps or any appliance that generates heat.
- Ensure you’re using the right wattage for light bulbs to prevent overheating.
When to Call a Qualified Electrician:
Reach out to a professional if you notice:
- Wall outlets or switches that are warm to the touch.
- Frequent blown fuses or tripped circuits.
- A rubbery or burning smell from appliances.
- Dimming or flickering lights, or bulbs that burn out prematurely.
- Appliances that produce sparks.
Prioritizing electrical safety ensures a safer environment for you and your family. Stay informed and always opt for professional assistance when in doubt.
1 2015-2019 data – https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Electrical
5,6 Electrical Safety Messages in American Sign Language Youtube video – https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Electrical
9Fire Protection for Your Older Home Youtube video – https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Electrical