The chance of electrical hazards increases, whether due to bad habits, neglecting electrical maintenance or misusing electrical appliances.
In this article, we will offer you some advice on how to identify and stay clear of some common electrical hazards in the home and when it’s a good idea to rely on electrical services to fix them.
The importance of electrical safety
With electronics everywhere around us today, it’s easy to get comfortable with electricity and forget how dangerous it can be if misused.
Ignoring electrical safety can lead to damaged belongings, burns or shock, but most importantly – it could be lethal to you or a loved one.
To avoid such hazards turning into a disaster, you should keep your eye peeled and take appropriate measures whenever you notice something off with your electronics.
#1 Faulty electrical equipment
Faulty electrical equipment is one of the biggest electrical hazards in your home. While not all problems can be easily spotted, regularly checking your older equipment or one that you use often for damage is highly advised.
Suppose there is visible damage on its electrical wires, the device itself, or it’s no longer working as intended and heating up.
You should stop using it immediately and have it repaired or replaced. Loose, stripped or damaged wires can be a shock hazard, and if they overheat, they can cause a fire too.
#2 Plugged-in appliances near water sources
Since water is a conductor, you should always strive to keep your appliances at a safe distance from any sinks, bathtubs, and other wet areas.
A wet plugged-in appliance poses an electrocution and fire hazard, so make sure to turn off the main power before you unplug it. Consider calling an electrician or a technician to asses its condition before turning it on.
It’s a good idea to leave a wet appliance to dry off for a few days before trying to turn it back on.
#3 Wrong-wattage light bulbs
Choosing the wrong wattage for your light bulb can turn it into an electrical hazard.
Every lamp or light fixture has a maximum wattage that it can safely support. If you put an 80W light bulb on a light fixture that can support a maximum of 60W, your bulb will draw a stronger current than your lamp can handle.
As a result, the light bulb will start overheating, damaging the socket and cables. This could potentially even cause an arc fault due to the damaged cable insulation, which could start a fire in your home.
Check the maximum wattage of your light fixture and always buy light bulbs of the same or lower.
If you cannot determine the wattage of your lamp due to a missing original package, lack of markings on the fixture, or are unable to measure it yourself, make sure to call electrical services for help.
#4 Overloaded electrical outlets
The growing number of electronics per home calls for the use of electrical strips in order to keep them all powered. However, Electrical outlets have a recommended electrical load they can safely carry.
In the UK, this is around 13A. Plugging too many electronics into a strip or plugging two or more high-consumption appliances in the same outlet can cause an overload.
This may result in damaged electrical wires, short circuits, overheating, possibly turning it into an ignition point and causing a fire.
You should avoid putting your dryer, dishwashing and washing machines in the same outlet.
Prolonged use of even a single heavy-duty device can also overload your electrical outlets, so make sure you are familiar with the capabilities of your circuit and the electrical resource a device would need.
#5 Unprotected electrical outlets
Your children and pets are natural explorers, and unprotected electrical outlets are the last thing you want them to find while they are on their adventure.
While you cannot prevent them from checking an outlet out, you can make the outlet safe for checking out. To childproof your outlets, you could use sliding cover plates, tamper-resistant receptacles, individual outlet covers or full outlet covers.
#6 Incorrect use of extension cords
Incorrect use of extension cords is one of the major reasons for fire and shock incidents.
A few common extension cords misuses include:
- Plugging one extension cord into another to make them longer or provide more sockets. This significantly increases electrical resistance and leads to overheating of electrical wires, posing a fire hazard. Use only 1 extension cord per outlet!
- Using any extension for any job. Different tools and appliances require different wattage, so consider the maximum power an extension can handle.
- Covering the extension cord with drapes, clothes, rugs, or clutter generally poses a fire hazard. Keep your extension cord clutter-free and visible.
- Leaving extension cables in the open is a tripping hazard, but it also can result in damaged or loosened electrical wires. This can lead to shock and is a fire hazard, too. Secure extension cables to a wall in high-traffic areas.
#7 Pouring water on electrical fires
If your appliance catches fire, DO NOT try to use water to extinguish it. Water will only worsen an electrical fire, and you could get electrified too.
Instead, you should immediately call emergency services. If you have one and the fire has not spread, you can use either a CO2 or Powder fire extinguisher. Turning off the main switch is also advisable to prevent the fire from reigniting. If the fire has already spread, evacuate because your life is much more important than the items.
#8 Handling electrical appliances with wet hands
If you have just walked out of the shower or washed your hands, properly dry off before reaching for the hairdryer or another plugged-in electrical piece. Water is a conductor, and not drying exposes you to the risk of being electrocuted.
#9 No protection against electrical surges
An electrical surge from a lightning strike, for example, can devastate your wired electronics. One of the best ways to protect your electronics from surges is by keeping them off when you are not using them.
Additionally, you could opt for using surge protectors to mitigate risk from surge damage. Ensuring that your electrical installation is in good condition will also keep you safer from electrical surges.
#10 Ignoring Persistent Circuit Breaks
If your circuit breaker is going off regularly for you to notice, that is a warning that you already have an active electrical hazard in your home.
Whether it’s faulty breakers, damaged electrical wires, or an appliance gone bad, you should identify the cause and have it fixed. Otherwise, you are inviting an electrical disaster right into your home.
Call an Electrician to Ensure Home Safety
Hiring professional electrical services to help you detect, identify and perform electrical repairs whenever your installation is in trouble is highly advised.
A certified electrician has the tool and skillsets to deal with any electrical outlets, wiring or appliance issues quickly and efficiently.
Do any of those seem familiar?
Ensure you keep yourself, your loved ones and your belongings safe by relying on quality electrical services for any electrical repairs and maintenance your home might need.