It’s surprising how often in a busy home, basic safety is ignored. Electronic equipment has become a huge part of our lives. When we’re thinking about basic electric appliances that we use every day, it can be easy to ignore the basic common sense that goes with them. However, when considering the risk that misuse of electronics can pose to your family, it makes sense to be mindful of the danger.
Electrical fires make up about 4000 fires a year, as well as accounting for more than 140 cases of injury or death to consumers. Given the risk it poses your home and family, it is important to be aware of the dangers, and take precaution. Most electrical fires are caused by common household mishaps, or ignoring the danger signs present in the home.
You don’t have to be an electrical engineer to understand and follow these 6 safety tips for your home and family.
Make it part of your routine to turn off any appliances you’re not currently using. Even electronics running at low power can be dangerous to leave on all the time, especially those appliances that need to be plugged in. Before bed, take a look around and make sure everything that should be has been turned off and unplugged.
Use outlet covers for outlets you don’t regularly use, to avoid anything getting stuck in there, and to make it less tempting for little hands. Regularly unplugging household appliances also means you are regularly checking sockets and cords, which brings us to our next tips.
When you use an appliance regularly, you often don’t even look at it before plugging it in. But instead of running on autopilot, take a look each time you plug something in. If you see any noticeable fraying or other damage to the cord, don’t plug it in! Frayed cords can throw sparks that start a fire, or cause electric shock to someone plugging it in.
If it’s something you can’t live without, call the company about replacing the cord. Never, ever attempt to make changes to a cord by removing a prong, or opening a casing yourself. If a cord is too loose, find a tighter outlet to fit it in. Loose cords cause appliances to behave unpredictably.
An obvious one, but just as obviously overlooked. It can be tempting to see a space with many outlets as impervious to this problem, but be mindful of the wattage being used on each socket. Keep large appliances grounded, use extension cords if necessary, rather than leaving your appliance cords dangling. Don’t stretch your extension cords unnecessarily.
It is better to have too much cord than not enough. Don’t overload a power bar with too many electronics. Never plug power bars into one another. This will prevent blown fuses, electrical failure, and fires. It also encourages extra care taken with long extension cords, which is useful for our next tip.
It may be unsightly to have a kitchen full of electrical cords, or a lot of cords in a tight space like a bathroom. But it’s also safer. Hidden extension cords are easier to trip over, which risks injury. Cords buried by carpets can overheat or be damaged by foot traffic, and since they’re not visible, the damage is less likely to be noticed until it starts a fire. Instead, keep cords tucked behind shelving, with plenty of space to reach to unplug from the outlet, to avoid tugging on the cord itself.
Do not wrap cords around other objects. Not only is this dangerous, it causes strain on the cord itself, which can damage your appliance. Use cord clips to keep them neat and out of the way. If you need to
If you are using a high-wattage bulb higher than the recommended wattage, your lights can overheat. This is especially true of a covered light with fixtures. Consider switching to a CFL light, which burns much cooler and is more energy efficient. Be aware, if a CFL light breaks, open a window, and leave the room for 15 minutes. Always be sure to screw light bulbs tightly. Loose bulbs shoot sparks, and can come easily out of their sockets with the light on. Always be sure lights are off when changing bulbs, regardless of the type or wattage you choose.
While this is easy to do in a living room, kitchens and bathrooms that use electric appliances may find it difficult to avoid the odd splash of water now and then. To keep things safe, keep all electrical appliances as far from water as possible. Always be sure to unplug before running water. Hands that are wet are a dangerous hazard. Do not handle any electronic with wet hands, even a small thing like a hair dryer. Never unplug or handle an appliance while your hands are wet. Do not fill a kettle while it is plugged in.
Do not use electronics outside if there is a risk of rain or dampness in the air or ground. Electricity travels up, so placing a stereo on a patch of wet grass can be as dangerous as having it near a swimming pool. Do not use electronics near a pool. If an electrical fire starts, it should be smothered with baking soda. Do not use water!
Electronics are an ever-growing presence in our lives. Our appliances make our lives easier, and are found in every room of our home. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that electricity can pose in our homes. You should always be aware of the state of your appliances, whether they need to be replaced or repaired.
Never use an appliance with a frayed or damaged cord. Never overload your sockets Always avoid water when using electrical appliances. As a final note, remember that electrical fires need to be smothered with baking soda. Keeping these tips in mind will help you protect your home and family from electric shock, big and small, fires, and property damage.
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