Most of us could not live without electricity, and neither would we really. Electricity is what keeps the light on and the food in the fridge cold. But living in a house that is powered by electricity also means that there are electrical hazards around you.
As many as 51,000 electrical house structures burn each year, according to data from the non-profit Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), and they cause more than $ 1.3 billion in property damage annually.
Before you panic and run to the switch box to close it all, know that electrical hazards can be easily solved – if you know what to look for. So stay tuned and let’s look at some of the most common electrical hazards in the home so you know what to do to make sure your home is as safe as possible.
Improper use of extension cord
They are practical, but extension cords cause an estimated 3,300 structural fires a year, according to ESFI. The best ways to avert a problem:
- Do not connect extension cords to each other.
- Inspect the wires for damage before use.
- Never run wires through walls or use them instead of professionally installed wires.
- Do not let the strings rest in water.
Overloaded electrical outlets
Extension cords are not the only way homeowners try to extend the use of their businesses. If you have added power plugs or adapters that are loaded with multiple appliances, you increase the risk of fire. This is because each outlet is only rated to supply a certain amount of power. You can contact your electrician to find out more about your home’s electrical load. Do not assume that you are good at using every free space in a power socket just because they are there – check with a professional to see how much electrical load each of your sockets can handle and write the quantities down in a notepad, so that you will always have this information.
Sockets too close to water or water near appliances or cords
These are technically two separate hazards, but the general rule is the same – water and electricity do not mix and can cause electric shock. To prevent this from happening, sockets should be installed as far away from water as possible.
Look for sockets for earth leakage circuit breaker (GFCI). These are designed with “test” and “reset” buttons, and are specially made for installation in bathrooms, kitchens in areas where water is used, to prevent damage in the event of water and electricity meeting.
It is also wise to keep an eye out for water leaks, so as not to interact with your electrical appliances or your electrical wires and create a disaster. If you have leaky pipes, a leaky roof or standing water in a basement, fix it ASAP to avoid short circuits.
Outdated wires or defective wires
Two potential hazards that both revolve around the same thing – electrical wiring. Like our appliances, the wires break over time. If you have old wiring in your home, it may be time for an upgrade to prevent breakdowns from causing a fire. The signs that it is time for an update are similar to the signs that newer wires are defective and need to be repaired:
- Problems pulling enough power to cover all your needs.
- A burning odor that appears to come from the walls or outlets.
- Smoke comes from your stores.
- Warm stains on the wall.
- Clear floss in visible wires.
- Noisy electric, such as hum.
Devices that often trigger your circuits
A triggered fuse is usually a one-time annoyance, but if it happens again and again, it is time to get to the root of the problem. Is there an appliance you turn on just before it stumbles? You will look for damaged wires and consider calling the repairer. If you can not easily identify the problem and your circuit breaker continues to trip when you turn on a particular appliance (or combination of appliances), call your electrician.
The wrong bulbs
The numbers of the bulbs you pick up at the hardware store are not just for display. Lamps and other luminaires have specific watt ratings and you must use bulbs that are on or below this number to prevent fire.
Improperly protected outlets
As many as 5,500 people are sent each year to emergency rooms at the hospital due to injuries involving businesses, many of them children. If you have children in the home, avoid the danger of tamper-proof outlet covers to protect the curious.
Electricity makes our lives easier every day, but it is powerful and must be treated with respect. In addition to making some upgrades around the house, you may want to consider installing smart sockets that can be turned off from an app on your phone or contracting with an alarm company that can monitor for fire and smoke in the house.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. Officer Banta has been a member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years and reviews all articles before giving his stamp of approval. Click here for more information about Officer Banta and the rest of our team.