If you’re a person who lives in the modern world, you rely heavily on your electrical devices and appliances. If electricity isn’t making our lives easier, it’s keeping us entertained. But for all the benefits it brings to our lives, homeowners shouldn’t forget that electricity is dangerous. These at-home electrical safety tips will help you continue to enjoy your gadgets and relax in your home, free from the dangers of electrical currents.
1. Update Your Electrical System
If you’re living in an older home with older wiring, you need to update your electrical system, because old wiring can mean big problems for your home. It’s not just that your older electrical system might contain elements that have degraded or become damaged over time. It’s also that your older home was wired to meet the electricity needs of a former time. Your older wiring probably can’t keep up with your multiple TVs, smartphones, tablets, laptops, dishwasher, microwave and numerous small appliances.
2. Use Appliances Safely
You should already know that you shouldn’t be using your blow dryer or curling iron while you’re sitting in the bathtub. Not only would it be a losing battle, but it would put you at risk for electrical shock, because water is an excellent conductor. Don’t use any appliance while standing in water, or with wet hands. Keep appliances away from sinks, tubs, toilets or other sources of moisture. When you’re done with your appliances, put them away and stow the cords away from children and pets. And if you’re using anything that generates heat – such as a laptop or TV – give it some room to breathe. Allowing air to circulate around the appliance will keep it from overheating, and possibly causing a fire.
3. Check Your Cords
If you’re using electrical cords in your home, check them regularly for frays, cracks or kinks. Do not use them for anything other than their intended purpose, and don’t use nails or staples to hold them in place. Don’t cover cords, don’t try to modify them yourself, and never unplug a cord by yanking on it – always grab at the plug itself. Finally, if you’re relying on extension cords, consider calling an electrician to come and install some more outlets.
4. Don’t Overload Outlets
There’s no prize for plugging the most things into a single receptacle, unless you consider burning your house down a prize. So don’t overload outlets with multiple power strips or adapters. If you’re getting desperate enough to plug multiple power strips into a receptacle, it’s probably time to have more outlets installed.
5. Warm Outlets Are Bad News
Warm outlets are a sign of electrical problems in your home, or at least a sign of trouble with that specific fixture. Warmth or sparks coming out of an outlet means that electricity is arcing inside, and could start a fire. Don’t use outlets that become warm to the touch, or emit a funny smell when used.
6. So Are Flickering Lights
If one light is flicking in your home, it’s probably just a bad connection in that fixture. But if all of your lights are flickering, it could be a sign that your home’s wiring isn’t grounded, that you’re using more power than your system can accommodate, that you have too many appliances on one circuit, or that you need to replace your electrical panel.
7. Block Unused Outlets
Unused outlets can be tempting for little fingers. Block them with child safety caps. If you don’t plan to use the outlet again anytime soon, you can cover it with a solid plate.
8. Ground Older Appliances
Older large appliances may not be grounded properly. You can tell by looking at the plug. If your older refrigerator, range, chest freezer or other large appliance have a two-prong plug, it’s time to replace them. If the appliances are fine but the outlets aren’t grounded, replace them instead.
9. Know Your Breakers
Are your breakers tripping constantly? Do you know why they trip, or what to do when it happens? Tripping a breaker means you’re overloading a circuit in your home. Either reconfigure your appliances, update your wiring, or both.
10. Call the Pros
If you need to make repairs to your home’s wiring or electrical system, don’t attempt to do it yourself – unless, of course, you’re a certified electrician. Your home warranty should cover many components of your electrical system, and it’s safest to let a professional electrician fix your wiring woes for you. Make sure your home’s wiring is up-to-date and that regularly inspect your home’s electrical systems for safety issues. Swap out older or faulty components regularly.
Electricity forms the cornerstone of modern life, but it can also be deadly. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that you’re using electricity in your home safely. Avoid common electrical hazards in your home, and know what to do to keep your home’s wiring safe and up-to-date. With the right precautions, and regular maintenance, your home’s electrical system can continue to serve your family well for many years to come.