Home Electrical Safety: What You Need to Know

Person switching on power board

First of all, never stick your tongue in a wall outlet. But seriously, folks. We all feel safer in our home. It’s our safe zone. Our hidden oasis from the often scary world outside. It’s the place to leave our troubles behind. But here’s the real deal. Your home may not be as safe as you think. Why else would we feel the need to have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms? This is where home electrical safety comes in.

Growing Up, the Big Concern was Creepy Monsters Under Our Beds or in Our Closets

Now that we’re all grown up, we realize the danger turns to something that we all take for granted. Electricity. Ever since Ben Franklin flew a kite to prove lightning was flowing electricity (for which many credit ole Ben with its discovery), electric power has become as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. Do you realize how much of our daily lives depend on electrical power? Next time there’s a blackout, give us a shout. Once you have your power back on, that is.

Electricity – One of Our Greatest Lifestyle Assets. Also One of Our Most Dangerous.

Just as a cozy winter fireplace left unchecked can grow into a raging house in flames, electrical issues have the potential to become a great fire danger, as well. Add to that electrocution as a very real household danger – attributed to improper wiring, wet conditions, or a do-it-yourself appliance repair gone awry.

Let’s Talk Fire Danger First

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) notes that overloaded electrical circuits are a major cause of residential fires.

Clues of overloaded circuits include flickering lights to frequently tripped circuit breakers to mild shocks from appliances and more. EFSI presents a thorough examination of how to detect overloaded circuits and what you can do about them.

More than something we’ve all tripped over, extension cords can overheat when used incorrectly – like plugging one extension to another and overloading an extension cord with too many connections. And how many of us like to hide the cords we’re using out of sight under an area rug or carpet? That’s a no-no, because heat can’t escape, and that can lead to a fire.

Now, About that Electrocution Threat …

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) were introduced in the 1970s to protect against electrocutions and have been responsible for saving lives ever since.

Anywhere inside or outside your home that can be exposed to water – bathrooms, outside decks, kitchen sinks/counters, laundry areas, garages, etc. – you’ll find GFCIs primarily located in outlets. They can also be found in circuit breakers and some extension cords. How GFCIs work is when an imbalance is detected in an electric current, they turn off power to minimize the potential for electric shock.

But as mentioned earlier, not all electrocution events are water-related. This story covers five common electrocution dangers in your home and how to avoid them.

Have a Home Electrical Inspection 

From the better-safe-than-sorry department, consider having a qualified electrician provide an electrical inspection if your home qualifies for any of these conditions:

  • If you are in the process of purchasing a home (new or older)
  • If your home is more than 40 years old
  • If you are installing a new major appliance (washer/dryer, refrigerator, entertainment system, home office, etc.)
  • If you’re renovating your home

Educate Your Family to be Part of the Solution

EFSI provides fun family viewing starring P.I. Plug, who’s here to help the whole family understand the importance of home electrical safety issues. While aimed at kids, we’re sure grownups will appreciate the learning P.I. Plug offers as well.

Note: Click the playlist icon in the upper right corner of the screen to access all five videos.

Sources:
EFSI.org
Realtor.com
Wonderopolis.org