According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), around 51,000 electrical fires occur in homes throughout the U.S. each year. These fires claim nearly 500 lives and injure more than 1,400 people annually. In addition, they also lead to more than $1.3 billion in property damages.
Electrical hazards are everywhere, but there are many ways to keep your loved ones safe and your property secure. Today, we’re sharing a few of the most common risks to watch out for, and how to prevent them.
Outdated or Insufficient Wiring
The leading cause of residential fires might not be what you think. It isn’t cooking appliances or candles left burning too long. Rather, faulty wiring is to blame.
Each year, these fires lead to an estimated 390 civilian deaths and 1,330 injuries, per data from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).
Is the wiring in your home in great working condition and installed in accordance with current codes? If you’re unsure, then it’s wise to hire a pro like Damyans Electric. You need professionals to perform a thorough assessment. An expert will be able to tell if there are any areas that need to be rewired or repaired to keep you safe.
Signs that your wiring might be on the fritz include:
- Lights flickering on and off
- Breakers tripping repeatedly
- Outlets that spark or feel warm to the touch
While it’s smart to schedule residential electrical service if you suspect a problem, we recommend calling an electrician annually if the wires in your home are 30 years old or older.
Using the Wrong Bulbs
A lightbulb is a lightbulb, right? Not quite. If you use a bulb that’s wired to support a higher wattage than your lamp can handle, it could spark and cause an electrical fire.
To avoid overlading the mechanism, take a close look at the label on the lamp’s socket. This should tell you exactly how much wattage it can safely handle. To stay on the safe side, it’s best to choose a bulb that’s slightly lower than this number.
Worried that the light output won’t be sufficient to meet your needs? Instead of solving the problem by buying a brighter bulb, look for a different lamp that can work at the higher capacity.
Water and Appliance Interaction
Since you were young, you’ve been told never to plug in a hairdryer near the bathtub. This is a basic safety skill imprinted on our brains thanks to the large warning label attached to most dryers.
However, this isn’t the only appliance that you should avoid near water. It’s best to keep all of your electrical devices as far from water as possible.
Yet, what should you do if an accident occurs and one inadvertently gets wet? In that case, resist the urge to unplug it immediately. Instead, head straight to your home’s electrical box.
Locate the breaker that controls the power source that the appliance is plugged into, and turn it off. This will prevent any power from traveling to that location. Once you’ve performed this step, you can go back to the appliance and safely unplug it.
Before you plug it back in and use it again, it’s best to call an electric repair service out for a visit. They can assess the appliance for any damage and make sure it’s safe to utilize. In addition, they can also check to make sure all of the outlets in your home are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection.
A GFCI protector will cut power to an outlet if it detects that someone has experienced a shock. While they’re great to have on all outlets, it’s critical to install them on any outlet located near a water source. Look for an affordable electrician who can equip your outlets with the safety features they need.
Overloading Outlets, Power Strips, and Extension Cords
Especially if you have a big family, it’s common to have multiple appliances running at once. At the same time, every light in your house might be on, your washing machine is hard at work, and the dishwasher is running.
That’s a lot of strain to put on your home’s electrical system.
Power strips, outlets, and even extension cords are only equipped to handle a specific amount of electricity. When you overload them, they could become damaged, defective, or even hazardous.
Avoid plugging power strips together to give your home more “juice” and don’t add adapters to the power strip so it can handle more devices than appropriate. While you might need the extra support in the short term, it isn’t worth the risk of igniting an electrical fire.
As you shop for power cords, look for ones that include built-in circuit breakers and an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal. The breaker will trip if the cord becomes too hot (preventing a fire), and the UL seal means that the cord meets strict industry standards for safety and performance.
If any appliance in your home appears to be malfunctioning, cease operation immediately. While some of these appliances (such as a clothes dryer or microwave) might seem necessary, continuing to use them could result in an electrical fire, shock, or burn.
Stop using them, call an electrical professional, and make sure the problem is fully addressed before firing them back up again.
Avoid These Electrical Hazards in Your Home
We depend on electricity to power our day-to-day activities. However, we rarely think about the risks that we incur by using them. Now that you know a few of the most common electrical hazards that can occur, you can take the necessary steps to keep everyone and everything around you as safe as possible.
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