May is National Electrical Safety Month! Electricity has become such a necessary part of our lives that we tend to take it for granted, but using it safely is vitally important. Edison Electric Institute (EEI) reminds you about some very important electrical safety tips for inside and outside your home.
Inside the Home
- Don’t overload electrical outlets. Too many items plugged into one outlet is a fire and shock hazard.
- Install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Test smoke alarms monthly by pressing the “TEST” button.
- Keep electrical appliances such as coffee makers, computers, hairdryers, and toasters away from sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. Water and electricity don’t mix, and can cause serious injury.
- In areas of the home where water may come into contact with electrical products, such as the bathroom, garage, kitchen, and basement, install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles in place of standard outlets. The GFCI protects you from electrical shock in case an appliance gets wet. Also, test GFCIs every month to ensure they are in working order.
- If there are children in the house, be sure that all electrical outlets have safety covers.
- Replace any lamp whose cord is damaged or cracked, and always turn off lamps when you leave the room for an extended period.
- Unplug an electrical appliance before attempting to fix it.
- When unplugging an appliance, don’t pull on the cord. This can damage the insulation and cause shock or a fire. Instead, pull from the plug.
Outside the Home
- Stay away from downed power lines. Always assume they are ‘live’ and therefore dangerous.
- Be sure to locate power lines before you begin chores such as cleaning gutters or trimming a tree. Always keep ladders away from power lines.
- Do not fly kites or toss objects around power lines. It can cause damage to the lines and possibly result in electrocution.
- When working outdoors, use only weather-resistant heavy gauge extension cords marked “for outdoor use.” These weather resistant cords have the added safeguard of a protective coating designed to withstand the rougher outdoor environment and to prevent water from seeping in.
- Be sure amperage ratings for outdoor extension cords are higher than those of the electrical product with which they are used.
- Keep cords out of your path or work area. Throw the cord over your shoulder.
- Be sure to examine cords before each use. Damaged cords should be replaced immediately.
- Remember that extension cords are for short-term needs and not for long-term power solutions. Never alter or tamper with an extension cord in any way.
For more information about keeping safe around electricity, visit your local electric company’s Web site. Also, check out the Electrical Safety Foundation International’s Web site, www.electrical-safety.org, for additional tips on making your home safer.