Safety starts with you: Tips for spotting potential electrical hazards in your home
Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from powering baby monitors to running HVAC systems and appliances. No wonder we get so comfortable with its instant availability that when we flip a switch, we expect most systems or devices to do the job.
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and here at Lynches River, we think it’s a great time to look around your home and check for potential safety hazards. Every electrical device has a purpose and a service lifespan, and while we can extend their operations with maintenance and care, none of them are designed to last forever.
Loose or damaged outlets
Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration can offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards. Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these warning signs, it may be time to contact an electrician.
Power strips with surge protectors can help protect expensive equipment like televisions and computer components from power spikes. Voltage spikes are measured in joules, and surge protectors are rated for the number of joules they can effectively absorb. That means if your surge protector is rated at 1,000 joules, it should be replaced when it hits or passes that limit. When the limit is reached, protection stops and you’re left with a basic power strip.
Some surge protectors include indicator lights that flicker to warn you when they’ve stopped working as designed, but many do not. If your electrical system takes a major hit or if you don’t remember when you bought your surge protector, replacement may be the best option.
If you use extension cords regularly to connect devices and equipment to your wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. With a growing number of electrical devices connecting your family to the electricity you get from Lynches River, having enough outlets in just the right spots can be challenging. Remember, extension cords are designed for temporary, occasional or periodic use.
If an extension cord gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended use. If it shows any signs of frayed, cracked or heat-damaged insulation, it should be replaced. And always make sure that extension cords used in outdoor or potentially damp locations are rated for exterior use.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 51,000 electrical fires are reported each year in the United States, causing more than $1.3 billion in annual property damage.
Electricity is an essential necessity for modern living, and at LREC we’re committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable power to all of our members. We hope you’ll keep these electrical safety tips in mind so that you can note any potential hazards before damage occurs.