Here are several tips to help you and your family stay safe around electricity in your home.
DANGER! Outlet Overload
Little ones should always ask an adult for help when plugging or removing cords from an outlet.
Bulb wattage matters! Light bulbs with wattages that are too high for the light fixture can overheat the fixture, causing a fire hazard. (ESFI)
Do you have little ones in the home? Make sure your loved ones are protected by installing tamper-resistant receptacles. (Occupational Safety and Health Admin)
Surge protectors for cable and phone jacks provide protection for your computer modem, TV and phone. (ESFI)
Entertainment centers and computer equipment are pricey items for the home! Make sure to leave plenty of space around these items for proper ventilation. (OSHA)
Working outdoors? Play it safe and use a wooden or fiberglass ladder. Remember to keep a minimum of 10 feet between the ladder and power lines. (National Fire Protection Association)
NEVER touch anyone or anything that’s in contact with a downed power line! Power lines may be live, so it’s best to stay a safe distance away. (NFPA)
Smoke detectors in your home should be tested every month to ensure they are properly working. (ESFI)
Never place extension cords in high traffic areas, under carpets or across walkways, where they pose a potential tripping hazard. (OSHA)
Using a window A/C unit? Before installation, make sure the electrical circuit and the outlet are able to handle the load. Large units should have their own separate electrical circuit so the system is not overloaded.
When you’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen, remember to set a timer to remind yourself to check on food that is simmering or in the oven. Always double check to make sure burners and appliances are turned off when you’re done. (ESFI)
How well do you know your home’s electrical system? Make a map showing which fuse or circuit breaker controls each switch, light or outlet. (ESFI)
Smoke detectors should be installed in every bedroom, outside of each sleeping area and on every level of your home. (ESFI)
If you’re working outdoors in a damp location, inspect all electrical cords and equipment being used. Make sure they are in good condition and free of defects – and remember to use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). (OSHA)
Recurring tripped circuit breakers or multiple blown fuses? This can signify a serious and dangerous electrical problem! Contact a licensed electrician immediately.
Lamps are great accents for our homes – make sure to place them on level surfaces, away from items that are flammable. (NFPA)
Flickering or dimming lights? This could mean bigger problems ahead. Contact a qualified electrician to check your home’s wiring.
Frayed or damaged extension cords are dangerous and should never be used. Damage to the cord can expose wires and cause fire and shock hazards.
Do you have a wobbling ceiling fan? This can wear out the fan’s motor over time. Turn off the fan and tighten the screws to correct the problem.
Power strips are great – but relying on them too much can be a problem! You may need to install more outlets in your home. Call a qualified electrician for help. (ESFI)
Any time you see an overhead power line – you should assume the line is energized, even if the wire is down or appears to be insulated.
For outdoor equipment, use lighting and power tools that have the label of an independent test laboratory, and make sure they’re made for outdoor use. (NFPA)
Flying a kite is great for outdoor fun! But remember to always be mindful of overhead power lines. (Safe Electricity)
Never throw water on an electrical fire! This may seem obvious, but in the heat of the moment, grabbing a bucket of water to extinguish the fire can be tempting. Use your chemical fire extinguisher instead. (Popular Mechanics)
Install light bulbs with extended life spans in hard-to-reach locations to limit the number of times you have to climb a ladder, move furniture or otherwise engage in potentially dangerous activities. (ESFI)
Remember: Power strips and surge suppressors do not provide more power to a location, only more access to the same limited capacity of the circuit into which it is connected. (ESFI)
All switches and lighting equipment should bear the mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL, Intertek, or CSA. (ESFI)
When cooking in the kitchen, remember to keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the oven, stove or toaster. (ESFI)
DIY project for the home? Always turn off the power to the circuit that you plan to work on by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel.
Use covers on outdoor power outlets, especially near swimming pools. Keep cords and electrical devices away from the water, and never handle electrical items before you’ve dried off. (ESFI)
When using a portable generator, make sure the extension cords used are rated for the load, are free of cuts or frays and have three-pronged plugs. (ESFI)