Being a responsible user of electricity means being prepared and doing your best to prevent things before they happen through regular electrical maintenance and going through an electrical safety checklist. Using your checklist could save you a lot of time and money, and it could even save a life.
Electrical Safety Checklist
Here are some ideas you can do at home to check on the safety of your electrical components. We still highly recommend you schedule Electrical Safety Inspection on a regular basis with Asbury Electric to ensure that you and your family are safe.
1. My outlets are not crowded and I have power strips for outlets with high-energy appliances.
The first thing to pay attention to on your electrical safety checklist is overcrowding a circuit. One of the most common mistakes that cause electrical problems is overloading a circuit with too many appliances. If a circuit is overloaded, it will automatically shut itself off, either by tripping into the open position, or older systems will blow a fuse. This can happen if you have holiday lights on outside, or if you are using something that requires a lot of electricity, such as a space heater, a toaster, or a hair dryer. Generally these problems will only cause a circuit to trip.
How often do you overload an outlet? You have so many things to charge or power, and there just aren’t enough outlets. Overloading a single outlet can cause major issues – sparks, melting, damage to whatever is plugged in, electrical shocks, or even fire. Check all outlets and make sure that things don’t seem too crowded. A quality power strip can provide more outlets and it will trip itself before any damage comes to your electronics.
2. I have checked all cords and replaced any that show signs of damage.
Make sure all electrical cords are in good condition. They should not be frayed or worn out. If the insulation around a cord has any problems, do not use it. This seems to be common sense, but many cords lay hidden behind furniture or tugged away. It is important to check the condition of your cords monthly. Check them more often if you have animals or small children that may have chewed on them when you weren’t looking. Cords can become pinched if they are near doors or chair legs, or internally frayed if they are stretched too far. If a cord has been damaged, replace it immediately. Signs of damage include the obvious – fraying and exposed wire, but also if a cord seems warm to touch.
3. My cords are out of the way and have space so they don’t overheat.
Electrical cords need space. They should not run under rugs or carpets, under furniture, or near hot appliances, such as a stove or furnace. Heat will cause the insulation to melt and the protective layer will be damaged. Keep cords away from high traffic areas, and anywhere that an animal or child could chew or pull on them. Hiding them under a carpet may be an easy fix, but that can cause the cord to overheat and melt. It also makes it more difficult to do the monitor the condition. You can purchase small spacers that attach the cord to the bottom of the wall or use zip-ties to attach them to the leg of a desk. This keeps cords out from under your feet and gives them space so they don’t overheat.
4.The outlets in the bathrooms and near the sinks are GFCI. I don’t have any electronics near sources of water.
Do not allow electrical cords or appliances to be near liquid or places that are wet, such as near a sink or next to your pet’s water dish. This also may seem obvious, but in some areas, such as the bathroom, it may be difficult to abide by this rule. In these situations, you should have a GFCI outlet installed. A ground fault circuit interrupter can detect when there is a difference in electrical currents and will shut itself off to avoid potential danger. Even with these special circuits, you should still always unplug electronics like hair dryers or straighteners when not in use.
5. The outlets have safety caps on them. I have spoken to my child, multiple times, about how to use electricity safely.
If you have small children, all unused outlets should have safety caps inserted in them. Even older children, who you think should know better, may want to “experiment” and see what happens. By having safety caps on, you can easily deter them. It is also important to talk to them about why the caps are there and how to use electricity safely. There are lots of videos on safety, here is a good one to check out. https://binged.it/2yDAdZd
6. I have unplugged all small appliances.
Small appliances should ALWAYS be turned off and unplugged when not in use or when no one is home. This includes toaster ovens, blenders, a clothes iron, space heaters, and hair straighteners. If a power surge comes through your home, it can cause these appliances to heat up, creating a potential fire hazard.
For more information on your electrical safety checklist, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and their room-by-room Electrical Safety Checklist at https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/118882/513.pdf