Top 6 Electrical Safety Tips
While we all love the convenience of modern electrical devices, taking a few precautions is vital. Electrical safety does not have to be complicated. Here are some simple ways to keep your home safe from electrical hazards:
- Unplug Appliances When Not in Use
Protect your energy by taking the time to unplug small appliances and you can see a return on your utility bills. Typically, we tell homeowners to unplug their appliances like blenders, toasters, computers, or even game consoles because they tend to draw power while turned off or not in use. An easy solution is to have a surge protector with an on / off switch top to turn off small appliances before bed.
While you may think that shutting off small appliances should stop all energy usage, there is still some power being drawn from outlets while shut down. While a single small appliance drawing power is negligible, the issue arises when you have multiple drawing power while turned off yet still plugged into an outlet.
While unplugging small appliances is wise, please avoid unplugging larger devices like your fridge or washer. Large appliances take up more energy. However, the rule of thumb is weighing the pros and cons of unplugging large devices. Unplugging that fridge will be costly when you must replace all the food that rotted overnight.
- Extension Cord Safety
Replace damaged extension cords. If an extension cord is damaged, you should replace it immediately to prevent a shock or fire hazard. A damaged plug means that the prongs are bent or broken and cannot conduct electricity safely, potentially resulting in sparks between the prongs and electrical shocks that could result in burns or electrocution.
Never use an extension cord not rated for your appliance's wattage rating (the number of watts it uses). Do not run more than one appliance per outlet but allow each to have a dedicated outlet (this includes using multi-outlet adapters like power strips).
Keep cords away from furniture to keep them from getting pinched when moved around; also, make sure that furniture does not block access to electrical outlets where you plan on using them.
- Keep All Devices Away from Water
While this tip feels straightforward, we have to mention it because we have seen many homeowners that keep their devices plugged in on a wet surface. Not only can water near electronic devices or outlets lead to electrocution, but you can also risk damaging your electronics. Just be mindful of where your devices are so you can avoid any accidents!
- Leave Room for Air Circulation Around Appliances
Most electronics create heat as they operate. If you put them in a cramped area or near other electronic devices, they can overheat and cause damage to the electronics. You should always leave enough space around your appliances so that air can circulate freely.
Electronics should be at least 6 inches away from anything that generates heat, such as a radiator. Invest in cable ties or other cable management systems like a wire bin to help keep cords from tangling and leading to cramped electronics.
- Install GFCI outlets
You may have seen this acronym before, but what does it mean? Ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) outlets are safety devices that shut off power to your home's electrical system if in a dangerous condition. They work like regular outlets except for one significant difference: they measure the current of the leak and cut off power when the current exceeds a safe level.
To ensure these devices are working correctly, check them annually or after any plumbing or appliance repair work has been done in your home.
- Avoid DIY Electrical Repair
Be bold and call in the experts. If you need help with your electrical system, bring in a professional.
It is worth noting that DIY electrical repair is not always unsafe—for instance, replacing a light fixture is probably fine if you know what you are doing. But avoid trying anything more than that unless you have experience working with electricity! Repairing electrical issues is a nuanced process involving understanding the home's electrical system and having the proper tools to avoid potentially fatal accidents.
Following these tips will help you have a safer home, and they can also help keep your family safe from fires. If you ever notice an electrical device malfunctioning or not working correctly, The Local Electrician is only a quick phone call away (832) 688-4419.