Electrical Safety Guide and Tips for Homes

Our everyday lives are impacted by electricity. It is our constant companion from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep. The fact that it is a normal part of our lives makes us sometimes forget that it has a powerful and dangerous potential. Sadly, these are very real threats that can cause injury or even death or damage to your property.

Electrical Safety Tips Anyone Can Follow

To ensure your family’s safety when using electrical appliances, extension cords, light bulbs, and other equipment, safety tips should be incorporated into daily household rules, homeschool fire safety, and daily expectations for behavior. The risk of sparking an electrical fire is only one mistake away, but simple preventative measures can help provide solutions.

Luckily, electrical safety practices and understanding how electricity works can help you prevent accidents at home. The following are some best practices for keeping you and your family safe around electricity:

Check That You’re Using The Correct Wattage In All Your Fixtures And Appliances

You should always check all your lamps, fixtures, and appliances to ensure they’re using the proper wattage to avoid electrical problems. For light fixtures with no wattage listed, use 60-watt bulbs or less. You should also use 25-watt bulbs for unmarked ceiling fixtures.

Pro tip: LED bulbs consume less power and reduce the risk of fixtures overheating. Learn more about LED lighting.

Watch Out For Overloaded Outlets To Protect Your Home

It is common for electrical problems to be caused by overloading an electrical outlet. Ensure that all outlets are cool to the touch, have protective faceplates, and are in good working order.  Keep outlets safe with the following tips:

  • Appliances should not be connected to extension cords or multi-outlet converters.
  • Do not plug more than one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.
  • Professional electricians should be consulted for hot outlet problems.
  • Remember that power strips only add outlets. They do not change the amount of power an outlet receives.
  • Smart plugs can be used to monitor outlet power loads and can automatically shut off appliances when an outlet begins to overheat.
  • Repair or replace damaged electrical cords to ensure your home is safe.
  • Never plug in anything other than the appropriate size plug into an outlet.
  • Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets should be installed in potentially hazardous areas such as around pools, crawl spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and unfinished basements.
  • All outlets should be properly covered with secure plates that cover all wiring.

Damaged Power Cords Are A Serious Residential Electrical Safety Risk

Almost every electrical appliance has a cord, and many homes use extension cords to extend the reach of electrical outlets. They can cause both fires and electrocutions. These tips can help keep cords in good condition for safe use:

  • Be sure to check cords regularly for fraying, cracks, and kinks, including power tool cords, holiday lights, and extension cords. You must do this before each use.
  • You should never use cords for anything other than what they were designed for, so you should never use them as a jumping rope, clothes line or leash.
  • Outlet cords should be firmly plugged in. If it is loose and can be pulled out easily, choose a different, more snug outlet.
  • At no time should cords be stapled or nailed in place. In case the cord does not remain where desired, secure it with tape or twist ties.
  • Cords should not be placed beneath rugs where they may become a trip hazard or where fraying will not be apparent. Additionally, covering a cord prevents it from keeping as cool as possible.
  • Modifications to a cord’s plug should never be made, such as cutting off the third prong or filing down a wider prong to fit into a different outlet.
  • The use of extension cords should be minimized whenever possible, since they are a temporary solution only.
  • Make sure the extension cord is the right weight and length for the job, and check whether it is rated for indoor or outdoor use.
  • When unplugging a cord, pull on the cord at the outlet rather than tug on the cord itself.

Electrical safety rules don’t just apply to power cords when they’re in use. They also need to be stored safely to prevent damage. Keep stored cords away from children and pets who may chew on or play with the cords. Lastly, try to avoid wrapping cords tightly around objects; this can stretch the cord or cause overheating.

Furthermore, the use of extension cords on a regular basis may mean that you don’t have enough outlets to fit your needs. Have a qualified electrician who understands electrical safety rules install additional outlets in rooms where you often use extension cords. 

Unplug All Your Unused Appliances To Reduce Potential Risks

One of the simplest electrical safety tips is also one of the easiest to forget: unplug your appliances when they are not in use. This does more than just save you electricity by reducing phantom drains; unplugging unused appliances also protects them against overheating.

It’s often difficult to remember to unplug unused appliances, but the new generation of smart plugs offers a solution, allowing you to set power schedules for each outlet.

Keep Electrical Devices And Outlets Away From Water To Prevent Shock.

It’s not a good idea to mix water and electricity. To follow electrical safety rules, keep electrical equipment dry and away from water prevents damage to appliances and can protect against personal injury and electrocution. It’s essential to keep your hands dry when working with electrical appliances. Water and electricity are less likely to come in contact with electrical equipment when it is kept away from plant pots, aquariums, sinks, showers, and bathtubs.

Give Your Appliances Proper Space For Air Circulation To Avoid Overheating.

Unless electrical equipment has adequate air circulation, it can overheat and short, and can become a fire hazard. It is important to keep appliances properly ventilated and not to run electrical equipment inside enclosed cabinets. Additionally, flammable objects should be stored far away from all appliances and electronics for best electrical safety. Pay especially close attention to your gas or electric dryer, as these need to be situated at least a foot from the wall to function safely.

Ensure That All Your Exhaust Fans Are Clean To Prevent Fire Hazards.

It is not uncommon for exhaust fans in some appliances to become dirty or clogged with debris, which makes them work harder. As a result, the appliance can have a shortened life and can also cause overheating, which can result in a fire hazard in the home if dangerous gases build up inside it. Regularly cleaning exhaust fans can help prevent such hazards.

Always Follow Appliance Instructions For Improved Electrical Safety

Among the safety tips for household electrical devices, reading instructions should be at the top of the list. Having an understanding of how to operate appliances safely improves both the performance and the safety of your device. You should stop using any appliance that gives you even a slight electrical shock until you have it checked by a qualified electrician.

Be Aware Of Heaters And Water Heaters To Prevent Potential Accidents

Combustible items should be kept away from portable heaters and built-in furnaces. For furnace safety, store combustibles far away from any heating appliances. It is recommended that portable heaters not be operated near drapes, and to prevent tipping they should be placed on a stable surface at all times.

On a related note, do you know what temperature your water heater is set to? Heater settings set too high can drain your water heater’s energy and result in burns and unintentional scalding, especially in homes with small children.

Remember This

It is imperative to know what to do in the event of an electrical short or spark to prevent or extinguish the fire, which will help to minimize the damage and devastation. A number of common causes and signs of electrical fires need to be considered. Take note of the following tips for family safety.

  • You should not allow children to play near small or large appliances with electric currents.
  • Replace any tool that generates even mild electric shocks.
  • Light switches that flicker should be replaced.
  • If any light switches feel hot to the touch, they need to be replaced.
  • Extendable cords, sockets, and plugs should not be overloaded.
  • Three-prong plugs should never be inserted into two-receptacle sockets.
  • You should know where fuse boxes and circuit breakers are located, as well as how to use them.
  • You should never attempt electrical repairs or rewiring without proper certification and experience.
  • If there is an electrical fire, do not use water; instead, use a dry fire extinguisher or baking soda.

These safety tips are a great place to start, but the best way to protect you and your home against electrical fires or electrocution is to hire a qualified, licensed electrician to do any electrical work in your home. You should also, of course, call 911 or other appropriate emergency services immediately in case of electrical injury or fire.

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