May is National Electrical Safety Month, a time designated to raise awareness about potential electrical hazards and how best to avoid them at work and home. What follows are some recommendations to ensure your safety:
- Unplug it. Appliances, tools, and other devices are still connected to electricity when they are plugged in, even if they are turned off. Turn off and unplug all electric devices when you’re done using them.
- Inspect it. Examine electrical cords often for broken connectors or fraying, and throw away any worn cords. Buy only cords that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory. Also, watch your wattage and only use light bulbs that don’t exceed the maximum wattage listed on your lamp or fixture.
- Check it. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets should be used in any area where water and electricity could mix—including kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors—and should be tested monthly. You should also check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors once a month to ensure they are working properly.
- Overload it. Overloaded electrical circuits can cause residential fires. Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances. All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, and you should only plug one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.
- Extend it. Extension cords are not a permanent solution. If you’re using extension cords regularly, you may need extra outlets and should contact a licensed electrician.
- Touch it. Never go near or drive over a power line. If you encounter a downed line, leave the area immediately and notify law enforcement if not sure of the utility. Never place ladders, poles, or other items near power lines, do not fly kites or drones near lines or substations. Teach children not to put their fingers in electrical outlets, use child-proof outlet covers and keep appliances and cords away from children. Also, never touch electrical appliances with wet hands or use them near sinks, tubs, toilets, or showers.
Taking a few extra moments to unplug, inspect or check a few of these things can help you avoid the likelihood of electricity-related fires, injuries, fatalities, and property loss.
Sources: NFPA, NSC