Electricity is essential to modern life, but it can be hazardous. Each year, there are over 4,000 electrical fires in homes across the United States, resulting in millions of dollars in damage and personal injuries. These fires are preventable with proper maintenance and basic safety protocol. Here are a few tips for electrical safety in the home.
1. Inspect Wiring Regularly for Electrical Safety
Check for signs of wear and tear on wiring and electrical cords, such as cracks or fraying on the insulation. When an appliance or electronic device has a damaged cord, replace the electrical cord or purchase a new device.
2. Electrical Safety in the Home: Don’t Overload Circuits
Don’t plug more than one major appliance into a single outlet, and pay attention to how many devices pull power from an electrical circuit. Overloading circuits is a leading cause of electrical fires.
3. Electrical Safety: Use Grounded Outlets
Two-pronged outlets are still common in older homes. Replace them with three-pronged outlets as soon as possible. The third prong provides a grounding conduit to discharge electricity safely away from your home, reducing fire risk.
4. Unplug Appliances When Not In Use
Phantom loads (also known as standby or vampire power) can account for up to 10% of residential energy use – wasting money and electricity. To reduce phantom loads, unplug small appliances when not needed. Plug home electronics (TVs, DVD players, etc.) into power strips, and turn them off when the equipment is not in use.
5. Use GFCIs for Electrical Safety in the Home
A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) shuts off power to a circuit when it detects an imbalance between the hot and neutral wires. Ground faults may occur when an appliance or cord is damaged, exposing live electrical wires. Install GFCIs in damp areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor outlets. Test the GFCI outlets monthly.
6. Don’t Try to Fix Electrical Issues Yourself
Regarding household wiring repairs and electrical issues, always call a professional electrician whenever you have a concern. Electricity can lead to injuries and house fires, so it’s best to leave repairs and installations to those with training and experience.
Most electrical fires are preventable with proper care and maintenance. If you’re ever unsure about your home’s electrical system, err on the side of caution and call a professional.