We live in a world where we have appliances, electrical devices, and equipment to make our day-to-day living more comfortable and easier.Electricity helps keep us cool or warm, it allows us to enjoy our entertainment devices, it enables us to have warm meals at our tables, it allows us to connect and communicate with others and the list of benefits that it brings just goes on and on.
We could surely say that electricity plays a huge role in our lives. It has become a necessity for the majority of us and it would be simply hard to imagine life without it.
Electricity for most parts is wonderful, but what most of us have forgotten is that it also comes with risks, like injuries, cause major destruction to properties and it could even be deadly.
Risks Related to Electricity
The National Fire Protection Association listed “electrical” as among the top fire causes along with cooking, heating, smoking, and candle. We quote from the NFPA website “Electricity helps make our lives easier but there are times when we can take its power and its potential for fire-related hazards for granted.”
In terms of electrocutions, US Consumer Product Safety Commissions stated that on average, 400 people are electrocuted at homes each year with 4 people dying from those electrocution-related accidents weekly.
There are several causes on how electrocution could happen, from contact to exposed electrical sources, faulty wiring, shock from faulty electrical products, and more.
Injuries caused by electricity can be severe. In addition to electrocution, other common injuries associated with electricity are:
- Electrical burns – this skin burn happens when the electricity comes in contact with the body. Then current can travel deep into the body and can cause damage to the organs and tissues.
- Nerve and tissue damage – this may require extensive medical intervention. The damage can also be irreversible.
- Heart failure – electric shock may stop the heart either momentarily or permanently.
Fire-related hazards due to electricity and serious injuries stress the need for awareness from homeowners to avoid possible accidents at homes. So, the good news is that homeowners can prevent it by making changes in their habits and generally learning more about the possible hazards.
Here are our easy-to-do electrical safety tips for homeowners:
Tip # 1: Use the correct wattage in all your fixtures and appliances
Did you know that using the right bulbs can save you from having electrical issues?
Have a go at checking all your fixtures, appliances, lamps, etc., and make sure that you are using the correct watts. This is fairly easy as most of the time, the wattage is indicated in the stickers found in your appliances. If not, use 60-watts for light fixtures or less.
If you also want to save more on your electricity while at the same reduce the possibility of overheating fixtures, use LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lights over the traditional incandescent bulbs. Check out the other benefits of using LED here.
Tip # 2: Know your electrical panel
Your electrical panel is basically the heart of your home’s electrical system, so it pays that you know about the basics.
You should know where it is located in case of emergencies and know how to shut it down when needed. Also, make sure that it is switched off during any major electrical activities to avoid shocks.
If you are living in a fairly old house or planning to purchase a new home, the checking of the electrical panel should be a part of your checklist. Most homeowners are not savvy enough for this, and for safety, call a professional electrician to test your electrical panel and assess if your panel is safe and if it needs updating.
Tip # 3: Beware of water + electricity
Water conducts electricity. With this in mind, make sure that your outlets are installed at a fair distance to any water source (especially on kitchens and bathrooms)
Reminder, you should also never hold electrical appliances when your hands are wet, as you are inviting an electric shock to happen. This is a call to homeowners for mindfulness because many people often use hair dryers fresh from the shower.
Also, same as with outlets, your appliances should be far away from the shower, bathtubs, plant pots, aquariums, sinks, and the likes. For irons, make sure that you unplug it first before pouring in the water.
Tip # 4: Have a fire extinguisher
In relation to Tip # 3, during electrical fires, pouring water to take out the fire is a common error of homeowners. Water is like gas and will further fuel the electrical fire. Electrocution is also most likely to happen.
So, in case of a fire-related emergency, a fire extinguisher will sure come in handy. If you do not have one at home, switch off your electric panel, evacuate your home, and call in the firefighters.
Tip # 5: Unplug all unused appliances
This is probably one of the simplest electrical safety tips: if unused, unplug.
Most homeowners do not bother with this step but this can actually save your appliances from power surges and overheating.
This is also a good way to save from your electricity bill as it reduces phantom drain. You may not be aware but as long as your appliances are plugged, even if you are not actively using them, it still consumes electricity.
Tip # 6: Throw away old and damaged appliances / Update your appliances
If you are still holding on to old appliances that have obvious wear and tear or damage (easily heats up, grounded, cords are already pinched), it’s time for an update.
Using old appliances, aside from not being energy efficient, is also prone to electrical hazards.
Also, check in the plugs, if your appliances still have the two-pronged plug, invest in new ones with the three-pronged plugs (it protects the user from shock)
Tip # 7: Feel your outlets
If your electrical outlets are hot or warm to touch means that there is an underlying issue like melting wiring or too high electrical load. Call the electricians asap to have it diagnosed and repaired.