We have long-established how electricity is a gift to mankind. Electricity makes our life not only easier but even entertained. The benefits of electricity are exponential, it allows more discoveries, helps us to fulfill our work duties, and just basically makes our lives comfortable.
But to remind us all again, yes, the benefits of electricity are staggering but it also doesn’t hide the fact that it is dangerous. Energy is powerful, and can not only cause destruction to property and injuries but even death.
If you have been following our blog, you will notice how we stress the importance of safety. The numbers don’t lie, thousands of electricity-related accidents are happening worldwide. However, people are not focused on the dangers that come with electricity, evident with having no electrical “protocols” at home. Electricity surrounds us, so it follows that hazards are also everywhere.
In order to combat these hazards, awareness is the key. With this, here are the 9 most dangerous home electrical hazards:
1. Improper usage of extension cords
We couldn’t count how many accidents have we encountered because of extension cords. Extension cords are extremely useful but it is also dangerous IF not properly used. Did you know that according to Electrical Safety Foundation International or ESFI, there are about 3,300 fires yearly that are attributed to extension cords? We are also adding tripping accidents here and kids being electrocuted.
The number 1 reason why this made it to our list is that many houses actually use extension cords as a permanent fixture in their homes. It became a go-to band-aid solution to inadequate placement of outlets and not well-thought placement of appliances (yes there are people placing TV about 15-20 feet away from the nearest source). There is more than one way on how extension cords pose hazards to homeowners, like:
• Homeowners plugging extension cords to one another
• Homeowners using visibly damaged extension cords and loose ones
• Homeowners running extension cords through the walls, ceilings, floors, and doorways
• Homeowners using extension cords with heaters/fans (overheat alert)
• Homeowners overloading extension cords (multiple appliances in one extension cord)
• Homeowners not being mindful when using outdoor extension cords near standing water or snow
• Homeowners stapling or nailing extensions cords on the walls
• Homeowners not knowing that there are actually different types of extension cords depending on usage (e.g. for outdoor use)
• Homeowners forcing extension cords with a three-prong plug to two-prong outlets
These are different scenarios of wrong usages of extension cord but all boils down to an accident waiting to happen. For example, in using damaged extension cords, only one exposed wire strand can cause electrocution or even burns. Running extension cords through walls, ceilings or etc is risky because heat cannot be emitted when covered, meaning it is another fire hazard. While plugging multiple appliances into an extension cord could end up overheating.
2. Using adapters or power strips loaded with multiple appliances
It is not only with extension cords, homeowners also use adapters or power strips and load them with multiple appliances. This is very dangerous as an electrical fire can start. This is because an outlet could only be used in a certain capacity. Just because your power strip has available slots means that you should use them. Your basis should be the amount of power that it can safely supply.
If you don’t know the capacity of your outlet, a professional electrician can help you with this. Make sure to have a record of the information.
3. Wiring is outdated or faulty
Your electrical wiring is not meant to last a lifetime, it will eventually break down because of constant usage. If your wirings haven’t been replaced for 30 years, this also means that you it don’t match the current standards, so it is essentially high risk. If you want to prevent fire, your best shot is to have your wirings inspected and upgraded if needed. In case you have faulty wirings (even if not old), continuous usage is also hazardous. Here are some signs that your wiring is old or have issues:
• Unpleasant burning smell from outlets
• Warm/hot spots in your wall
• Visible issues
• Humming electricity sound
• Smoke or even fire
• Issue in drawing power needed to supply your needs
4. Appliances or gadgets that cause your circuit breaker to trip
This is easy to spot. Is there an appliance in your house that when turned on causes your circuit breaker to trip? If this is not a one-time occurrence, then you have to investigate further. It could be wiring damages or if you can’t identify the possible cause, just call in your electrician to gauge the issue.
5. Faulty grounding
Grounding is one of the most important aspects of your home’s electrical system due to safety issues and the longevity of appliances and gadgets. If you have a faulty grounding, a number of issues could arise. Examples of these are shortened lives for your appliances and electrical shock. Grounding issues are a bit complex (e.d. Improper installation of an Insulated Grounding system and neutral to ground voltage issues), and we suggest that you call your licensed electrician to check if your home’s grounding is proper and stable.
6. Electronics or outlets that are too close to the water
We have mentioned this multiple times in different articles, water is a conductor of electricity. This means that water and electricity don’t mix and would result in damaged equipment and electrical shocks.
Your goal should be to keep water and electricity apart. Some simple way to do this is to not bring any electronic device into the tub, not handling electrical appliances with wet hands, and making sure that all outlets are dry (make sure that kids know these rules and not play with water near outlets)
In addition, in case of a fire that is electricity-related, never ever use water to kill the fire. This will only add fuel to the fire. With this, make sure that your home has a fire extinguisher for emergency use.
7. Inquisitive young kids
Kids, especially babies and toddlers, are curious little creatures (even pets too!). With their penchant for exploration and experimentation, parents must use different measures to protect them.
Kids have a tendency to poke around the outlets using their fingers or just about anything, some even stick their tongues to outlets and pull the plugs out. They could seriously hurt themselves or cause electrical fires. The best protection that you can give is to not only keep an eye on them all the time but also have proactive safety measures in place. An example of this is having outlet covers installed (you can also easily do this by yourself). It is cheap and you can virtually purchase it anywhere.
Also, when around children, be extra mindful of where you place your electronic device. Make sure your kids won’t be able to reach it.
8. Using the wrong light bulbs
Light bulbs are literally all over every room of your home. Don’t make the mistake of just picking a light bulb in the hardware. You have to make sure that you are using the right wattage. Check the specific wattage ratings of your lighting fixtures and lamps before any purchase to avoid overloading your fixture’s wiring.
Tip: when changing your light bulbs, make sure that your switch is turned off and your hands are dry to avoid electric shocks. Also, make sure that your light bulbs are away from flammable materials like drapes and plastics.
9. House not professionally inspected
We have included not having an electrical inspection as an ongoing hazard to your home. Like with anything else, a comprehensive electrical maintenance check should be in place. Most homeowners only call a licensed electrician when problems have already surfaced and not as a preventive measure.
All the things that we have mentioned above will be spotted by your trusty electrician and proper recommendations will be given to you. Your electrician will also give you additional information, advice, and even electrical related-tips.
Read here to know more about electrical inspection and why you should get it.
Other home safety rules to remember are:
1. Do not risk it. Avoid DIY electrical work. Once you spot any issues, call your trusty electrician
2. Make sure to regularly check your wiring, gadgets, appliances for possible issues
3. Avoid using malfunctioning appliances or gadgets
4. Have a list of electrical protocols in place and inform everyone in the household including children. Regular reminders should also be done
As the adage says, knowledge is power. It is best to equip yourself with information on how to run your home in different aspects. If you’ll also notice, a lot of these electrical hazards can be easily fixed, and you just have to give time and evaluate your safety needs.
In addition, you should also be aware to draw the line between your know-how and having a professional deal things for you. If you need an experienced and licensed electrician, click here.
Keep safe, everyone, and apply this information to maintain your safety and your family.