Most people only think about their home’s electrical system when the power goes out or there’s a problem. Whether you’re aware of it or not, there is an immense amount of power flowing through your home on a regular basis.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), around 51,000 home electrical fires occur every year. ESFI estimates that 1,400 injuries, 500 deaths, and $1.3 billion in property damage result from these fires.
As a homeowner, it’s crucial to practice electrical safety and awareness. This checklist will help you maintain your electrical system and protect your home from fires and other dangers.
1. Pay attention to electrical issues
Often, electrical problems are symptoms of a bigger problem. A breaker tripping multiple times is an annoyance, but it might also indicate a deeper issue. The same goes for fuses that blow on a regular basis.
If you are experiencing any issues with your power, it’s time to get a professional inspection. Find a local electrician who can examine your home and find any concerns, such as frayed wiring or circuits that aren’t properly grounded. They can diagnose the problem and help you fix it before it threatens your family’s safety.
2. Install surge protectors
A power surge can damage your wiring and any devices plugged into your outlets.
If lightning strikes your home or a power line you’re connected to, a strong burst of energy will travel into your home’s electrical system. Since the amount of electricity is too much for your system to handle, it will generate intense heat. Along with damaging your devices, a power surge can cause an electrical fire.
A surge protector channels any bursts of energy into a grounding wire, safely passing it out of your home. Many people use surge protector power strips for computers, TVs, and other valuable devices. You can guard against surges while also gaining more space for your plugs.
Whole-house surge protectors stop bursts of energy before they can travel through the entire electrical system. Installing one of these devices in your home’s electrical panel will protect the entire house from any electrical surges.
3. Check and maintain your appliances
Every home has numerous machines plugged into the electrical system. Your fridge, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, and more have their own electrical systems, which are connected to your home for power.
If one of these devices breaks, it can cause an electrical fire.
Regularly check all of your appliances and their wiring. Look for damaged power cords and unusual heat coming from the machine or the outlet. If you smell or see smoke, immediately shut off the breaker and unplug the appliance.
For smaller devices, such as toasters, crock pots, and vacuum cleaners, keep an eye out for similar issues. Keep all electrical devices away from water. Even simple products such as hair straighteners and blow dryers should be handled with care.
You can use some devices when they’re not in great shape, but electrical appliances are not included in this category. Always treat potential electrical dangers with care.
4. Pay attention to your light bulbs
There are dozens of light bulbs to choose from, so it’s easy to get the wrong one accidentally. Unfortunately, this simple mistake can have severe consequences.
Every lamp or light uses a specific amount of power. Choosing a light bulb with the wrong wattage or the wrong type of light bulb can make the light overheat. Along with damaging the fixture, it may catch fire.
The right light bulbs will protect your home, family, and belongings. You can find the specifications you need on the light or in its user manual. Always use this information to guide your purchase. Though you can just buy the same type of bulb as the one that burnt out, it may not be the right bulb.
Go through your home to ensure every light has the right bulbs for total peace of mind.
5. Check outdoor appliances and outlets
There are several items to check outside as well. Make sure all of your outlets are working, aren’t unusually hot, and are in good condition. If you use any of these outlets regularly, consider getting a surge protector that’s made for outdoor use.
Examine your outdoor lighting for any problems. Look for damaged or exposed wiring, as well as any areas that are dim or aren’t working properly. Double-check that each light is using the right bulbs.
For homes with pools, you’ll need to check the electrical system for your pump, spa, pool, and/or hot tub. Outdoor kitchens, TVs, sound systems, and other electrical systems may also have issues. Be sure to check every device.
Next, examine all of your electrical tools. Do you see frayed or broken wiring or cords? Are your extension cords all in good shape? Even if you use these items rarely, make sure they’re safe to use.
Finally, ensure you’re only using electrical equipment that’s made for outdoor use. Never leave any of your tools or devices outside where they might be damaged by the elements.
6. Use electrical safety best practices
You might not stick a fork in an outlet, but have you ever used one to get a stubborn piece of bread out of the toaster?
Take the time to educate your family about the threats caused by these dangerous actions. Teach them to never stick a metal object in or near an electrical outlet or device. Never leave an appliance on if you leave the home. They should be aware of the dangers of using electrical devices near water, even with something as simple as using a charging phone in the bath.
Use tamper-resistant outlet covers if you have young children in the home. Remind them to stay away from power cords and plugs, especially when they are in use.
Most importantly, model safe behaviors around others. Build these safe practices into habits that will prevent any electrical disasters in your home.