May is National Electrical Safety Month (NESM), and that means you’ll be able to find lots of information on how to make your home safer against electrical fires. Thanks to our modern lifestyles, there’s more electronics in our smart homes than ever before. That means you’re dealing with more risk of fire than ever before. Here are some excellent tips to help you stay safe.
Home Electrical Safety
Every homeowner should have basic electrical safety down pat. It’s important to respect electricity, as it can so often start a fire. This comes down to two thing: learning the signs of an overloaded power outlet, as well as how to avoid it.
An outlet may be overloaded if you notice it’s discolored, or there’s a buzzing sound coming from them. You’ll also see that devices plugged into them are underpowered, or that they trip the breakers when they’re switched on. If you see any of this happening, it’s important to stop overloading the outlet right away.
To do this, have your home inspected by an electrician to see where the issue lies, and have the outlets replaced if needs be. Switch out devices for ones that consume less power, such as energy efficient light bulbs. You’ll see a decrease in your energy bills, too.
Home Renovation Safety Devices and Code Compliance
If you’re renovating your home, you’ll need to install the following devices to ensure your remodel meets code:
- Arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI): These protect against electrical fires created by malfunctions. They can stop up 50% of electrical fires in their tracks.
- Surge protective devices (SPD): These protect against surges that can damage your devices, making them less safe to use.
- Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): These protect against electric shock, and are required in areas where water and electricity may make contact.
- Tamper-resistant receptacles: These function like regular outlets but have an internal shutter, to stop foreign objects being placed inside.
Where you use these devices will depend on which room you’re renovating. For example, a ground fault circuit interrupter will work best in a kitchen or bathroom. Check out the most recent fire codes before you start making changes, to ensure your home is up to date and safe.
Extension Cord Safety Tips
Extension cords are a real risk when used negligently, causing up to 3,300 electrical fires per year. Using extension cords properly is critical to your safety, so keep these important tips in mind:
- Never plug an electrical cord into another electrical cord, also known as “daisy chaining.” This increases the risk of electrical fires. If you need a longer cord, you’ll need to buy one or consider moving the outlet somewhere more useful to you.
- Choose and use extension cords safely, to serve its intended purpose (indoor-rated versus outdoor-rated extension cords). Before you use an extension cord, check for damages and the wires within, especially if they’ve seen a lot of use. Worn, frayed or damaged extension cords must not be used.
Electrical Safety While Working From Home
Working remotely means you’re bringing in more electrical items, increasing the risk of a home fire. Here are just a few electrical safety tips to keep you and your home safe from electrical hazards while working from home:
- When you’re done using any electrical equipment, ensure that you turn it off and unplug it at the end of the day. Be sure that you place these items, and their wires, out of the way. You don’t want to be at risk for tripping over the wires as you move around your home.
- If you’re working with any combustibles, such as paper, keep them at least three feet away from space heaters and other heat sources.
- If you’re using space heaters, ensure that you never plug them into extension leads, only directly to outlets.
- Avoid overloading outlets, as this is a major fire risk.
Smart Home Energy-Saving Strategies
The less energy you use, the less risk you have of an electrical fire. Here are a few energy conservation tips on how to improve your household’s energy efficiency, save money, and reduce your environmental footprint in 2020:
- Install a programmable thermostat. These help reduce your heating and cooling costs, as you’ll only need to use your AC when you’re at home.
- Turn off your devices when you’re not using them, and unplug them.
- Inspect all of your electrical items regularly, looking for damage. Safely dispose of any items that are damaged, as using them poses a fire risk. It’s much better to replace those items, as they will be up to date with energy regulations and save you energy as you use them.
Childproofing Outlets With Tamper-Resistant Receptacles
When you have a child, there’s a lot about your home that will need to change. This is especially true of your electrical outlets. You’ve got to be sure that they’re safe, as it’s so tempting for a little one to try and stick something into them. In fact, research conducted by Temple University found that 100% of 2-4 year olds were able to remove plastic outlet caps within 10 seconds.
As mentioned earlier though, there is new technology that makes it so easy to prevent this from happening. Tamper-resistant receptacles, or TRRs, are the permanent childproofing solution in homes across the world. How do they work exactly?
A permanent shutter is installed in the outlet cover. When it’s not in use, the shutter sits over the opening, so nothing can get inside. It’s a very simple effect, but one that stops wandering fingers in their traps. If you pair this with other safety methods in your home, you can reduce the risk of electrical shocks and keep your children safe as they explore.
This National Electrical Fire Safety Month, pledge to make your home safer against electrical fires. It’s time well spent, and you’ll feel safer knowing you’ve made these changes.