With our homes fully powered by electricity, everyone needs to understand electrical safety and the possible hazards that can result from a single fault. An alarming 31,000 home fires occur every year in the US as a result of such electrical hazards.
To protect our homes and our families, let’s look at some practical tips from experts on how to prevent such electrical catastrophes.
Keep Your Appliances Dry
“One of the deadliest combinations is water and electricity. Once your electrical appliances get wet, you may end up electrocuting yourself.” (David Shell)
Safeguard Your Electrical Outlets
“If you have children, chances are they can be curious at times. If by chance to play with your outlets, they’ll end up getting electrocuted. They may stick their fingers or objects like forks into the outlets. You can reduce the risk by using outlet covers as an added layer of protection.” (David Shell)
Switch Off Any Appliance Not Being Used
“Your electrical appliances may overheat if you use them for long periods. Even when they’re not in use and they’re still plugged in, they can still cause fire by overheating or through a power surge.” (David Shell)
Leave The Repairs To The Experts
“It can be tempting to do the repairs yourself to save a few bucks. However, the damages are more expensive if you commit a small mistake. If you’re not an electrical repair professional, you should leave the task to the experts.” (David Shell)
Steer Clear From Faulty Products
“There are plenty of counterfeit goods in the market. You have to remember that they’re cheap for a reason. 99% of them don’t follow the electrical safety standards, which makes them electrical hazards.”
David Shell, Founder & CEO of TradesmenCosts
“Smart plugs work through a WiFi connection and allow homeowners infinitely more control over the use of their appliances. If you leave the house and are concerned about accidentally leaving any sort of dangerous appliance plugged in, like a hair straightener or iron, smart plugs allow you to turn them off remotely. You can access the plug from your smartphone and turn off appliances at will. Gone are the days of having to run home because you forgot you left something plugged in. Smart plugs also allow you to set timers for your appliances, so they turn off and on at the same time every day.
“With this kind of automation, homeowners can have more peace-of-mind and worry less about possible hazards that come from common house appliances. There are numerous kinds of smart plugs on the market at many different price points, and installation is very accessible and straightforward. Smart plugs are a great first step in securing your home, and making you and your family feel safer. They also offer many other great features, such as saving energy, and analyzing the amount of energy that your appliances use. which is a huge bonus and could help your overall home finances.”
Kristen Bolig, Founder at SecurityNerd
Watch out for Repeatedly Tripping Breakers
“If you turn on an appliance and it repeatedly trips the circuit breaker or blows fuses, that’s a sign of a short in that appliance or outlets and that you shouldn’t use it until repaired. Circuit breakers and fuses are your home’s safety mechanisms to ensure that when too much power is traveling through the system or the electricity is taking an unexpected route; it won’t get to start a fire.
“Sometimes these crossed wires occur inside the electrical outlets and need the help of a licensed electrician to rewire. But sometimes they occur within the appliance themselves, in which case they should be replaced or repaired professionally.
“To find out which has the short, try using the appliance in another outlet that’s part of a different circuit. If that causes the circuit to short, you’ve found the culprit.”
Matthias Alleckna, Energy Analyst at EnergyRates.ca
“When it comes to electrical hazards in the home, your appliances can sometimes be a major hazard. Regularly check your wires for fraying or defects. Bad wiring highly increases the risk of power surges and fires, if you spot a cable running to an appliance that looks damaged, call a professional to repair it or replace the unit altogether.” (Ray Brosnan)
Don’t Use Wet Hands
“Also be sure to never handle an electrical appliance whilst your hands are wet. This significantly increases the chance of getting an electric shock – Hairdryers are the biggest culprit of this, be sure to keep this and other appliances out of the bathroom or anywhere near a sink, bath, shower or tap.”
Ray Brosnan, Brosnan Property Solutions
Tape or Replace Exposed Wires
“Ensure the wiring of the appliances is properly sealed. Properly insulated wiring is the first step to prevent a possible hazard. This is important because exposed wires are prone to come in contact with water or human touch that can cause a hazard if not fixed on time. Use the PVC tape to seal the opening, or even better, replace it with a new wire for better safety.” (Martin Orefice)
Minimize Water Exposure
“Keep all your appliances dry. Water and electricity are a deadly combo and often the most common cause of electrical hazards. Ensure your appliances are away from water and moisture to avoid any possible risk. Position all your appliances strategically that minimizes chances of water exposure.” (Martin Orefice)
Ensure The Electrical Outlets Are Safe
“If you have outdated outlets, replace them with Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRR) for better safety. Make a regular habit of checking outlets and replace them when necessary. Never overload outlets with multiple plugs and adapters because it puts excess pressure on the circuit and increases the chances of spark and other hazards.”
Martin Orefice, the Founder of Rent To Own Labs
“A lot of electric shock inci dents happen because the wires and cords aren’t properly arranged around the house. For example, you’re going to be prone to electric shock if you pull the cord instead of the plug. The wire coatings could be peeled and expose the dangerous parts. Aside from that, some wires do get damaged if you place it along walkways for the same reason.”
James Surrey, Founder & Chief Editor at Review Home Warranties
Keep the Rodents Away
“Rodents can cause significant damage to exposed wires, demolishing the plastic coating and eat through the metal. Unstable wiring can cause damage to appliances and is fatal in some instances. When the metal inside the wire is damaged, appliances may short and generate sparks. The heat from exposed wire can be fiercely hot and set fire to its surroundings. Prevention is cheaper than repair costs, so get your house rodent-proofed to avoid a potential tragedy.
Bugs can enter your electrical socket and multiply heavily. Red ants are notorious for making a home out of your sockets. Once inside, they can chew through wires. Damaged wires inside plug sockets can cause electrocution. When you spot an infestation, you need to hire a professional exterminator and then find an electrician to take a look at your wiring.”
Ed Spicer, Home Expert & CEO of Pest Strategies
“Prevention of electrical hazards should be a priority in all places, especially our homes. Also, knowing the dangers and acknowledging these electrical hazards can go a long way in protecting your family and home safely;
Residual Current Device (RCD)
“Be extra careful in wet areas of your home. Liquids are a conductor of electricity increasing the risk of faulty devices putting people in the area at risk. Ensure your devices are protected by a Residual Current Device (RCD). Residual Current Device (RCD) installed by a licensed electrician. RCDs save lives and property. Engage a licensed electrical contractor to complete a maintenance check of your electric systems around the house. Old wiring, overloaded outlets, earthing faults, damaged appliances, etc., can put occupants and property at risk.” (Craig Brown)
Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor Only
“Unlicenced persons are not permitted to undertake electrical works. You must use a licensed electrical contractor employing a licensed electrical tradesman. Ensure you check that they are licensed for not only your own safety but insurances in the event there was a future issue.” (Craig Brown)
Watch out for Sparks and Burning Smells
“If you observe faulty cabling, cracked power outlets or switches, or crackling noises from electrical devices immediately avoid the area and call your local licenced electrical contractor. Also be on the look out for burning smells that may emanate from from faults in areas that you cannot see, such as the ceiling space. It is better to have these things checked as your household’s safety is paramount.”
Craig Brown, HIREtrades
Desiree Macy is the Editorial Director of SIA Online Magazine which is frequented by security executives, corporate security officers, and private protection professionals each month. Desiree’s interests revolves around cyber-security, and business continuity.