The average household uses several electrical appliances on any given day. With most of these devices and machines being such a common feature in many modern homes, it is easy to overlook the risks associated with their use and them being potential hazards. Therefore, homeowners should be familiar with the principles of safe operation of different appliances to ensure the safety of everyone that uses them.
Ensuring the safe use of any electrical device, be it a light bulb or power cord is not rocket science. Most of the measure that should be taken are straightforward and should be part of the household fire safety rules as well as daily conduct expectations for everyone in the home. All it takes for an electrical fire to start is one mistake. As such, preventive action is the most effective answer.
Electrical appliances range from something as simple as an electric clock to a machine as advanced as the microwave oven. To safely operate any of such devices in the home, your household should keep to the following safety tips:
- Ensure the machines and devices you use in your house are approved by the Underwriters Laboratories or any other reputable consumer advice authority.
- If an appliance is not in use, it should be unplugged from the power sockets, and the stow cords put out of reach of kids and pets.
- If you have devices that generate heat, such as the computer monitors, radio, TV, and ovens, they should have some clearance from the ground or wall to that air can circulate with ease and help to cool them. Avoid placing things such as toys, decals, or have curtains over appliances that warm up when being used.
- Carefully read and understand the instructions provided by the manufacturer when trying to operate an appliance for the first time, or to do any repairs or upgrades.
- Water and electricity do not mix well; therefore, you should have your electricals ways from wet areas such as the bathtubs, sinks, overhead vents, or pools.
- Never operate an electrical appliance with wet hands or if you are standing in water.
- Keep all flammable materials, including toys, clothes, and curtains away from the space heaters, radiators, heating vents, or any other machine that generates heat.
Few electrical appliances have a wireless power input. As such, most of them will have a cord. Moreover, extensions cords are a common thing in most homes since they are meant to increase the range of the power outlets. For the safe operation of such electrical cables, your home should adhere to the following:
- Inspect the lines regularly for kinks, frays, or cracks; this goes for the holiday lights, power tool cords, and the extension cables. You should make a habit of doing this before using any corded electrical appliance; this is according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Safety.
- Never let the children turn the power cables into jump ropes or play leashes. The cords are neither meant to be used as clotheslines but for their intended purpose, solely.
- Ensure the cables are correctly and tightly affixed to the plugs, and the plugs firmly plugged into the power outlet. Everything should have a snug fit so that nothing pulls out easily.
- When thinking of put cords in a particular position for some time, avoid using nails or staples. You should use zip ties or tape to secure the power cables in place.
- Do not run the cords under the carpets and rugs because they can be a trip hazard. Moreover, a covered cable will not be able to stay cool, and this poses a risk of causing an electrical fire.
- If the attached plug does not fit the outlet, do not attempt to modify it to fit by filling it down or clipping off the third prong.
- Remember to check the rating of the power cable to determine where it is made for indoor or outdoor use.
- When unplugging the appliance, pull on the plug rather than tugging on the cord.
- Keep in mind that most extension cords should be a temporary answer and their use kept at a minimum where and when possible.
To power the electrical appliance, you have to plug it to an appropriate electrical outlet. However, most of the sockets in the average home will last adequate safety measures. As such, a child can insert the wrong objects in them and get electrocuted or cause a fire. The following tips will prove uses when it comes to safety measures for the power outlets in your home:
- Ensure all unused outlets have a cover or shielded by a solid cover plate. You can as well invest in childproofing caps, which is one of the recommendations of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Avoid overloading your electrical outlets with several power strips or adaptors.
- Always drive in a plug that fits perfectly into the outlet.
- For potentially hazardous sections of the home, you can install ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets. Such sockets are ideal for areas such as the unfinished basement, the crawl spaces, bathroom, kitchen, and near the swimming pool.
- When the power outlets are not in use, cover them with the secure plates.
For lighting in the house, every home will need light bulbs. And since these are the most common fixture, it is necessary to brush up on the safe handling of the light bulbs.
- Check the wattage of the bulbs before installing them so that they will offer the desired illumination and you avoid cases of overheat.
- Consider CFL (compact fluorescent lights) or better yet LED bulbs over the incandescent ones. They offer adequate lighting at lower wattage demand than the incandescent bulbs.
- In the even the CFL bulb breaks, the Nebraska Recycling Council recommends that everyone in the room to leave and the windows opened for fresh air to circulate for around 15 minutes.
- When installing the bulbs, screw them securely in place to avoid shorts and sparks.
- Before changing the bulb, remember to turn off the power supply at the switch.
Practice electrical safety should be something done indoors and well as outside the house. Some of the electrical hazards at homes and around the compound are preventable by doing the following:
- Prune the trees and bushes that are close to power lines.
- Do not allow the kids to fly their toys, balloons, or kites near the power lines.
- Always use a ladder when inspecting areas that are at an elevation to ensure they do not have any risks that can affect the power lines.
- Keeping the children from playing or swimming in the water during an electrical storm, be it raining or not.
- Never think that a power line is not deadly, even if it is insulated.
- Never approach a fallen power line to check whether or not it is live. It may not give the warning signs, but it does pose a significant risk. You should contact the relevant authorities to come to address the issue.
Electrical Fire Safety Tips
If an electrical fire does happen even after trying your best to lessen the chances of a short or spark from occurring, you need to know what to do to mitigate the ensuing devastation. The first thing to do is to call 911 and other relevant emergency services. To keep you and your family safe from the electrical fires, here are some few tips worth remembering:
- Keep children away from electric appliances and do not allow them to play next to such devices or machines.
- Replace any tools that put off even mild electric shocks.
- Replace the switches that flicker or are too hot to the touch
- Do not overload your power outlets or the extension cords.
- A three-prong plug is not designed to fit in a two-receptacle socket, so never force it in.
- Locate the fuse boxes and circuit breakers and know how to operate them safely.
- Do not try to do repairs, rewiring, or any upgrades to your electrical appliances without the requisite experience or certification.
- Never pour water on an electrical fire; instead, use baking soda or a dry fire extinguisher.
Electricity is a household necessity, yet it does pose a significant danger when used carelessly. Adhering to the safety tips and measures given above will help keep your family and property safe.