May is National Electrical Safety Month! To help spread awareness and keep the Magic Valley safe, we wanted to share some of the most common electrical safety hazards that people come across in their homes, and how to handle these hazards.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “electrical hazards can cause burns, shock, and electrocution (death).” So here are a few quick reminders on electrical safety hazards and how to keep you and your family safe
1. Too Many Cords
Even though many electronics seem to be going wireless these days, that doesn’t automatically do away with the hoards of cords we have in our homes, especially in office spaces or media rooms. In addition to not being very visually appealing, having too many cords in one place is also a potential fire hazard. Check out this article for some excellent ideas on how to better organize cords in your home. (It’s also a smart idea to keep cords out of sight whenever possible. This prevents children from playing with them, pets from chewing on them, and others from tripping on them!) Remember: don’t overload your power strips or outlets either!
2. Uncovered Outlets.
Curious kids and pets can often find themselves near electrical outlets, and this can be a big problem. Cover outlets if necessary (with kids and pets) or if desired for added safety in your home. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, and something as simple as spending $10 or less on outlet plug covers (like these safety caps or these self-closing covers) is a small price to pay for something that could save a life.
H2O is a big NO when it comes to electricity. Keep the two away from each other at all costs, especially if you notice a wire or cord is damaged. If doing one’s hair with a hair dryer curling iron, flat iron, or other hair care tool, keep the cord (and the tool itself) away from the sink, bathtub, and toilet. When working with small appliances, don’t plug these in near the kitchen sink either. If you have electrical outlets that are close to water sources (again, sinks, bathtubs, showers, toilets, fridges, etc.), be sure to dry them off if you notice water splash on or near them. Remember to never leave appliances plugged in near water sources either.
4. Exposed Wires.
Periodically check the cords on your electronic devices, tools, and appliances to ensure they’re not damaged in any way. This includes fraying, melting, cracks, discoloration, corrosion – anything that’s out of the ordinary for a cord! If you notice damage of any kind, don’t use the product. If the item is too expensive to replace, have a professional, licensed electrician give you advice on what to do. Also, be wary going straight to electrical tape – again, seek a professional’s help before going straight to trying to do it yourself. (Electrical damage is too serious of a danger to rely solely on Pinterest!)
Yes, lightbulbs can also be a source of electrical hazards. Using the wrong wattage, trying to change a lightbulb with the light still on, and even touching a light switch with wet hands can all be dangerous ways of dealing with lighting. Be sure to use a bulb with the correct wattage, which is typically a wattage that’s less than or equal to what the lamp or light source can handle. Otherwise, the lamp might overheat, and this can lead to electrical fires. (Maximum wattage can be found near or on the lamp’s socket.)
A good rule of thumb is to just always be cautious when it comes to electrical safety. This may seem like a no-brainer, but because electricity is so common in today’s modern society, sometimes it’s easy to forget the basics when using it. Preventing electrical safety hazards is an important step in keeping your home, your family, and yourself safe. Whenever you’re working around electricity, please take the proper precautions, and stay safe!