Harnessing the power of electricity is one of the most influential accomplishments in human history. From charging your cell phone to sending people to space, these tasks have been made possible by electricity. But despite its greatness, electricity has its pitfalls and the most notable being that electricity can be very dangerous. In fact, every year 485 people die from electrical fires and more than 2,000 more are injured in America alone! That is why electrical safety is so important! In this article, we will be discussing some insight about electricity in homes as well as some practical ways to ensure electrical safety to make sure you and your family are safe.
Electricity enters the home through a control panel and it is the main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually located in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a higher-numbered fuse or a metallic item, such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip on the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from "off" to "on." Be sure to investigate why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes include frayed wires, overloaded outlets, or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high-wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.
Outlets and Extension Cords
Make sure all electrical receptacles or outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFCIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.
Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings, and do not store papers around them. Level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it, and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts, and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so.
Electrical Heating Equipment
Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles, and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs, and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating. If you would like to learn more about how to keep your home warm, you can read our post by clicking here!
Electricity is important to the workings of the home but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have faceplates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles, or high tension towers.
Electricity and Water
A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. Never use any electrical appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with GFCIs. Shocks can be fatal.
Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause, and take measures to get rid of them.
There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennae, kites, and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs, or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.
Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures, and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a GFCI. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others to stay away; if a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire, and if the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.
- Never use anything without the proper fist to protect a circuit.
- Find and correct overloaded circuits.
- Never place extension cords under rugs.
- Outlets near water should be GFCI-type outlets.
- Don’t allow trees near power lines to be climbed.
- Keep ladders, kites, equipment, and anything else away from overhead power lines.
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Hire a certified home inspector to check the electrical appliances and wiring in a home.
As you can probably see, there are many precautions when using electricity in homes. But with lots of electrical safety and proactive installations (GFCIs and more), your family can have all the benefits of electricity without having to worry about the dangers. One of the most important things about electrical safety is being able to spot the issues, and this is where home inspectors come in! At SMARTMOVE Inspection, we are trained rigorously in spotting signs of electrical problems to help ensure that your home is fully protected. If you would like to contact us for an inspection, you can call us at (205) 202-7131! I hope you enjoyed this article! Have a blessed day!