It wasn't until the late 19th century that electricity was actually used by the public. Now we use electricity without giving it a second thought. After all, we grew up with it in our homes. But electricity and safety should go hand in hand. Here are some electrical safety tips that may be overlooked in your day-to-day life.
Inspect Those Cords
Damaged or worn cords can cause a short circuit leading to fire or shock. All cords, including lamp cords, electronic cords, extension cords and small appliance cords should be inspected at least once a year since the wires can become dry and brittle and crack. Make it a habit and do it at the same time you replace the batteries in your smoke alarms every year.
Handle Electric Plugs With Care
When you remove a plug from the socket, always place your fingers on the housing to pull the plug. Don’t tug on the wire itself, which can pull the wire from the housing and cause a shock. Make sure your hands are dry, since just a tiny drop of water can cause the plug to arc. This is also why you should never use an electric appliance (hair dryer, radio, etc.) in or around a water source. If you have to dry your hair in the bathroom, make sure there is no standing water in the sink or tub. (And don’t be standing in a puddle of water, which could really curl your hair the hard way.)
Keep Cords in Plain Sight
Don’t run extension cords under carpet or furniture. A cord under carpeting, especially in a high-traffic area, can become damaged, causing a spark and potentially a fire. A cord under furniture could also become damaged by friction and start a fire when someone sits down. Cords are not permanent, and therefore can be easily damaged. Inspect and protect!
Relieve Your Sockets
Don’t overload your sockets--there are reasons for only two in each receptacle. Each socket is connected to a fuse box or circuit breaker, and most home wiring systems connect two or more sockets to the same breaker. A breaker can only take so many amps. If overloaded, the fuse can burn out or the breaker could pop off. For example, if a microwave pulls 10 amps and a toaster pulls 10 amps, together they will pull 20 amps. If they are on the same breaker and used at the same time it will overload the breaker. The breaker will pop, and then you will have no electric power to those two sockets. (You won’t have any breakfast, either!)
This may go without saying, but never stick anything, including fingers, into a socket. There are live wires in there! A shock, burn or something even worse could happen. If you need to get a piece of toast out of the toaster, unplug it first. That goes for any electric appliance. If you are going to work on an appliance or open it up for any reason, always unplug it first.
Quick Outdoor Safety
Electricity is not confined to indoors. Here are some tips to keep in mind when outdoors.
- Never fly kites near power lines. Remember, that is how Ben Franklin discovered that electricity can travel!
- Go inside if there is a thunderstorm, since lightening is high-powered electricity.
- Those metal boxes that are strewn around newer subdivisions are called transformer boxes and contain wiring. Stay away from them.
- Never use electric appliances outside when the pavement is wet. Vacuuming your car while the vacuum or cord is in a puddle will definitely give you a shock you won’t forget.
- If doing any digging, call the digger’s hotline to make sure you won’t run into any underground wires.