Safety Around The House
Americans depend on electricity now more than any other time in our history. Flat-screen TV’s, microwave ovens, stereo systems, dishwashers, and outdoor lighting have made the transition from creature comforts to common-place commodities. All of these products use electricity, and many homes were built before their widespread use.
Electricity in and around our homes can be dangerous if the equipment, appliances, or wiring is not maintained and respected.
Here are some things to think about electrical safety around the home:
- Home Wiring – Annually, an estimated 28,000 residential electrical fires cause 360 deaths, 1,000 injuries, and $995 million in direct loss (USFA). Nearly half of those fires where equipment is involved were caused by the building’s wiring.
- Today’s average home uses about six times as much electricity as a home did a generation ago. If you have an older home, your electrical system may not be adequate to power all the equipment we commonly use today. Re-wiring a home and upgrading an electrical system can be an expensive undertaking, but is much less expensive than a fire.
- Extension Cords – Extension cords are intended for TEMPORARY use only. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring 270. The most frequent causes include short circuits, overloading, and deterioration.
- When using extension cords, know the wattage rating of the appliances you are plugging into them. Do not overload extension cords.
- Check extension cords frequently for wear and deterioration.
- If a cord feels hot to the touch, unplug it!
- Only use extension cords for temporary solutions. If you find you have appliances or equipment plugged into extension cords for months or years, you probably should have some electrical upgrading done on your home circuits or more outlets installed.
- GFCI's – Many older homes have electrical systems that do not include a grounding wire. The National Electric Code allows homeowners to replace outlets in ungrounded boxes with Ground Fault Current Interrupter (GFCI’s). GFCI’s should be installed where water is present, such as in bathrooms and kitchens. Contact a licensed electrician to discuss this safety upgrade.
- Ladders – If you are busy painting, trimming trees, cleaning gutters, putting up storm windows, or installing Christmas lights, be aware of overhead power lines. Always carry the ladder horizontally and look up before you set it up. Aluminum ladders and overhead power lines can be a deadly combination.
- Power Tools – Keep your outdoor and indoor power and garden tools in good shape. If you find frayed cords, broken plugs, or cracked housings, have the tool repaired or replaced. Always store your power tools in a warm, dry place. When using extension cords, make sure the amperage rating is greater than or equal to the tool you are using.
- Call Before you Dig – Underground power lines carry as much voltage as overhead lines, and can be just as dangerous. Before starting any excavating, landscaping, planting, or general construction, call the Ohio Utility Protection Service to have the utility lines located on your property, even if your electric lines are overhead.
Flooded basement – Don’t compound an unfortunate situation by creating a dangerous risk of electrical shock. If your basement has flooded, do not use damaged electrical equipment until it has completely dried out and has been checked by a certified service technician. Stay out of standing water in the basement as much as possible.
Don’t Shoot! – Many utilities have outages each year caused by people shooting at electric distribution equipment like insulators, poles, transformers, and towers. In all cases, this act is vandalism and is punishable by fines or jail time. Not only that, but when an outage is created a Pioneer crew must respond to restore service to the affected area, which is always dangerous work. Not to mention an outage could be created to a home that contains life-supporting equipment. Please do not shoot at power equipment; it’s reckless, dangerous, and senseless, not to mention illegal.