Electrical problems in homes cause over 50,000 fires a year resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths. Many of these electrical malfunctions and accidents are preventable, and taking some time to inspect your home’s indoor electrical system is just a smart thing to do. A simple oversight like a frayed cord or unsafe outlet could cause you grief, and the even a small amount of electricity can be fatal.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are inexpensive outlets that prevent electric shocks and should be used in your kitchen, bathrooms, unfinished basement, garage, wet bars and near the laundry room tub. Here are some more tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about how you can prevent a problem:
- Always turn off power at the circuit breaker box before working on your electrical system. (Hint: this is a good time to label or verify the labeling of your breakers so you know at a glance what they control.)
- Replace any electric cords that are frayed, cracked or have exposed wires.
- Do not place cords under rugs, across doorways, or any place where they can be stepped on. Don’t wrap cords tightly around any object.
- If children are present, use safety covers on all unused outlets, including wall outlets, power strips and extension cords.
- Do not use extension cords on a permanent basis, and never use metal such as nails or wire staples to hold a cord in place.
- All electrical equipment, including kitchen appliances like toasters, should be located away from water and moisture sources.
- Never overload a circuit.
- If a light switch or outlet is warm, your lights flicker, you have blown fuses or tripped circuits, or you ever receive a slight shock that’s not from static electricity, call a qualified electrician to determine the problem.
Remember, if you have children in your home, you will need to pay special attention to home electrical safety. There are many more areas that you should check out in your home to be sure it’s electrically safe, and some great sources of more information are:
- CPSC Home Electrical Safety Checklist
- Electrical Safety Foundation International Electrical and Fire Safety Tips
- National Fire Protection Association’s Electrical Safety Tips