Electricity is a part of our everyday lives, from powering the coffee maker in the morning to home lights at night. It’s easy to forget that the current running through the house can cause serious damage to your health and your property. May is National Electricity Safety Month. By being aware of potential electrical hazards in the home, you can avoid both the costs and headache of hospital or repair bills.
The 5 Top Home Electrical Hazards
Electricity safety as a whole includes electrocution, shock hazards, and fire hazards. By taking a few minutes every May to look around your home for potential electrical hazards, you can catch them before they become major problems.
Here are the top 5 home electrical hazards:
- Electrical Cords: Frayed, old, or cords that are warm to the touch when in use. These cords can heat to a high enough temperature to set nearby flammable items, such as carpets or furniture, on fire. Similarly, electrical cords that are covered can lead to fire hazards.
- Appliance Problems: Appliances which sputter or spark, or frequently trigger the fuse box, should be either repaired or discarded. These may be experiencing power fluctuations that can pose serious fire hazards.
- Overloaded Power Strips: Even though most power strips come with a built-in surge protector, it’s important to note that the capacity of individual power strips varies. Some are designed to handle large appliances such as refrigerators or dishwashers while others are purpose-built for toasters or coffee makers.
- Home Wiring Problems: Old wiring, especially when hidden behind walls, can remain cracked or frayed for months or years without anyone noticing.
- Outlets Near Water: Outlets near water, such as in a bathroom or in the kitchen, can pose an electrical hazard if not grounded properly or if placed too closely to the water.
Electrical hazards don’t always have obvious signs such as smoke or a burning smell. Flickering lights, frequently triggered fuse boxes, shocks when using light switches, and light bulbs that burn out too frequently may indicate an underlying wiring problem. Call an electrician if you notice any of these signs in your home.
Tips to Avoid Home Electrical Hazards
Avoiding electrical fires is as simple as making a few adjustments to your daily routine. These tips will help you avoid home electrical hazards.
- Have an electrician visit your property to check up on home wiring at least once a year.
- Don’t overload your power strip. Choose the right type of power strip for the appliance you will be using.
- Don’t daisy chain your power strips. This may seem like a good idea to extend the reach and use of a single outlet, but can be lead to an overload and fire hazard.
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Do not touch switches or appliances with wet hands.
- Keep outdoor appliances covered and elevated away from pooling water.
- Replace instead of repairing old or fraying cords. Do not use electrician’s tape to repair cords.
- Call an electrician if lightbulbs flicker or burn out regularly; these signs may indicate a home wiring problem
- Shut off the power to an appliance immediately if you notice a burning smell or smoke, and do not use the appliance again until it has been repaired.
- Use the correct wattage bulb for your fixtures.
This May, take a look around your home to make sure that you are avoiding unnecessary fire hazards. Raising awareness for electricity hazards is the first step towards catching home electrical problems before they start.