>>>Electrical Safety Tips
Electricity has the power to light lamps that help us
see at night and fuel heaters that keep us warm in winter, but it is important
not to get in electricity's way because it can harm you. Here are a few safety
tips for homeowners and consumers:
- Never play with electrical cords, wires, switches,
- Stay away from fallen power lines. Tell an adult if
you see a fallen line.
- Never use a hairdryer or play an electrical radio
or television near a bathtub or sink.
- Before you climb a tree, look up. If a power line
is nearby or touching, stay away from the tree.
- Never touch anything that runs on electricity when
your hands are wet.
- Fly kites and model airplanes in a wide open field
or park-never near overhead electrical wires.
- Never climb utility poles or electrical towers.
- Stay away from substations and transformers (green
Electrical Outlet Safety
Older homes may have receptacles which are damaged or which,
otherwise, may have deteriorated over the years. In one case of a damaged
receptacle, a woman suffered severe burns to her hand as she was plugging in a
floor lamp. Part of the plastic faceplate of the outlet had broken away,
allowing the prongs of the plug to bridge from the electrical contacts to the
grounded strap, resulting in intense electrical arcing.
Outlets also deteriorate from repeated use, from plugging-in
and unplugging appliances as is often done in kitchens and bathrooms. As a
result, when plugs fit loosely into receptacles, especially the two-prong
ungrounded type, they may slip partially or completely out of the receptacle
with only slight movement of the attached cord. Receptacles in this condition
may overheat and pose a serious fire hazard; if covered by a curtain or drape,
the fire hazard is even greater.
Consumers should have a qualified person replace
deteriorated and damaged receptacles and, at the same time, upgrade their home
electrical system to present safety standards.
Another method of protection in the home is to install
3-wire receptacles which will accept either 2- or 3-prong plugs
This method, however, requires a grounding conductor which
may or may not be available in the outlet box.
Preventing Electrical Fires
Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485
Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by
electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by
the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed
wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) would like
consumers to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss
of life and property resulting from electrical fires.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for
67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical
wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.
December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires.
Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities
and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Most electrical wiring
fires start in the bedroom.
- Most electrical fires result from problems with "fixed
wiring" such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords
and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home
- In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of
residential electrical fires.
- Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse
of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running
the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.
- The home appliances most often involved in electrical
fires are electric stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units,
televisions, radios and record players.
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or
damaged appliance cords immediately.
- Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload
- Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and
counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and
- When buying electrical appliances look for products which
meet the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) standard for safety.
- Don't allow children to play with or around electrical
appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
- Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible
items at least three feet from all heaters.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a
three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension
- Never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot
to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to "child-proof"
- Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear.
If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes
even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases
your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan
frequently with your family.
It is important for homeowners to understand the severity of
an electrical wiring fire, as it often begins behind a wall, in a basement or
in the attic where the fire can spread throughout the home before setting off
the smoke alarm or becoming evident to occupants. This reduces the amount of
time available to escape a burning building.
Below are additional safety tips to help homeowners create
the safest home possible:
- Make sure smoke alarms are installed on every floor
outside sleeping areas and in every bedroom, and are in good working order.
- Look for telltale signs of electrical problems such as
dimming of lights, frequent circuit breaker trips or blown fuses.
- Ask a qualified electrician if your home would benefit
from AFCI protection, especially during inspections of older homes or upgrades
to electrical systems.
- Limit the use of extension cords, particularly cords used
to power room air conditioners.
- Use light bulbs that are the proper wattage for the
fixture - higher wattage bulbs can degrade the wires in and around the fixture.
Extension cords, surge protector safety
- Look for a certification label from an independent
testing lab such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Electrical Testing
Laboratories) on the package and on the product itself. Products with this
certification label meet current industry safety standards. For extension
cords, look for a permanently attached certification label on the cord near the
plug. For power strips and surge protectors, inspect the underside of the
casing and make certain that it is marked with the manufacturer's name and the
- Use electrical cords, power strips and surge protectors
that have polarized plugs with one blade slightly wider the other, or grounded
three-pronged plugs. These features reduce the risk of electric shock.
- Use special, heavy duty extension cords for high wattage
appliances such as air conditioners, portable electric heaters and freezers.
- Extension cords used outside should be specifically
designed for such use to guard against shock.
- Insert plugs fully so that no part of the prongs are
exposed when the cord is in use.
- Never cover any part of an extension cord with rugs or
other objects while it is in use. If the cord is covered, heat cannot escape,
which can result in fire.
- Don't overload cords with too many appliances. Change the
cord to a higher-rated one or unplug and relocate appliances to other outlets.
- Make sure cords do not dangle from the counter or table
tops where they can be pulled down or tripped over.
- If a cord feels hot to the touch, stop using it and throw
- Replace cracked or worn cords.
- Don't use extension cords to compensate for inadequate
home wiring. Use extension cords only when necessary and only on a temporary