May is Electrical Safety Month
Nationally, the month of May has been designated to focus attention on electrical dangers, and to deliver core messaging and themes to help raise awareness and prevent electrical fires, injuries, and deaths in the home and the workplace. We are reminded to take appropriate precautions regarding electric appliances and to work safely around electric equipment. Electrical accidents occur too often, and frequently result in serious injury or worse. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year there are about 31,000 fires and 200 deaths involving home electrical systems in the United States. Additionally, 180 of these are related to consumer products such as appliances, power tools, or other useful items around the house. Electrical Fires is the #2 Cause of Home Fire Deaths.
Electrical Safety Tips
- Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.
- Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
- In homes with small children, unused wall sockets and extension-cord receptacles should have plastic safety covers.
- Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
- Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
- If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
- When possible, avoid the use of "cube taps" and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.
- Extension cords should be for temporary use only. They are not intended to replace permanent household wiring.
- Cords should be discarded if they are cracked or frayed.
- Cords should be used according to their ratings (indoor or outdoor use) and according to the power needs of the appliance that is being plugged in.
- Never nail or staple cords or use cords that are coiled or bent.
- If the cord is hot to the touch then it should be replaced with a cord that has a higher wattage capacity.
- Always unplug the cord by pulling on the plug and not the cord.
Polarized and 3-Prong Plugs
- Polarized plugs have one blade that is slightly bigger than the other. This design makes sure that plugs are plugged into outlets correctly and also reduces the risk of electric shock. NEVER shove a polarized plug into a non-polarized outlet or extension cord.
- 3-prong plugs also help to reduce the risk of electric shock. NEVER remove the 3rd prong in order to make it fit into a 2 prong outlet or extension cord.
- Check the lamp’s wattage and use the appropriate watt light bulb.
- Make sure that light bulbs are screwed in securely to prevent overheating.
- Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn.
- If you smell a faint burning or rubbery smell from a lamp then the wattage level of the light bulb is too high for the lamp and it should be replaced with the appropriate bulb.
- Make sure that all appliances have been tested by an independent research laboratory and be sure to follow all manufacturers instructions carefully.
- Appliances that take a lot of power to operate, such as space heaters and halogen lamps, should be plugged directly into an outlet. These appliances should not be plugged into extension cords.
- One Outlet One Plug! Don’t overload electric outlets with several plugs. If multiple appliances must share one outlet, be sure to use only one appliance at a time.
Water and appliances don’t mix!
- Don’t leave appliances plugged in where they may come into contact with water.
- If an appliance falls into water DO NOT reach in to pull it out. First turn off the power and unplug the appliance.
- Don’t use electric appliances or take showers or baths during an electric storm. Using electricity during an electric storm increases your risk of getting an electric shock.
Hunt for Home Electrical Hazards
- Keep an eye out for these warning signs. If any of these are present in your home there could be a risk of an electric fire or electrocution.
- Frequent power outages or blown fuses. This may indicate that your home wiring needs to be updated or repaired. Contact a licensed electrician.
- Overloaded electrical outlets.
- Dim or flickering lights.
- Sparks or sizzling sounds in outlets or walls.
- Overheated plugs, cords or switches.Smells of something burning or rubbery smells.
- Frayed wires or cracked cords. Feeling a mild shock or tingle when you plug in an appliance.
- Breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Sit or lie compfortably in a quiet place. Close your eyes.
- Imagine you are in a peaceful place, perhaps lying on a warm beach or grassy hilltop watching the clouds float by.
- Put one hand on your stomach and focus on your breathing.
- Breathe slowly and deeply. As you inhale, feel your stomach rise. As you exhale, feel it sink.
- Continue breathing slowly for 10 minutes.