Improve Your Electrical Safety at Home
Electricity is a marvel of modern living, providing us with a persistent and powerful source of energy that brings unprecedented convenience into our homes. Try to imagine life without being able to flick on a switch to illuminate a room with bright light at night. So many of the appliances and devices we take for granted, such as televisions, computers, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, and even furnaces, hot water heaters, stoves, and dryers for some households, are totally dependent on electricity to perform their functions.
But all that convenience and power does come with a caveat. Electricity couldn’t deliver all the energy it does if it didn’t pack a major punch, which can be harmful or even deadly if not handled with respect. Careless or negligent behavior around electrical equipment can cause fire, electrocution, equipment damage and other problems. Read on for tips on how to improve your electrical safety at home so you can enjoy the benefits of electricity without creating an unacceptable risk for your family.
Around the House
You interact with electric devices many times throughout the day. While most are perfectly safe under normal circumstances, you could create a fire hazard or risk electric shock if you aren’t careful about how you treat your electric system.
- Make sure bathroom and outdoor outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
- Never poke fingers, toys, or anything else into wall outlets.
- Do not overload circuits, and use a power strip for heavy usage.
- Use cords with a third (ground) prong. Never try to remove the third prong.
- Do not plug or unplug electrical appliances, tools, or equipment with wet hands or in wet conditions.
- Replace damaged or frayed cords.
- Never attempt to disconnect your power meter, as it could explode.
- Always have a qualified electrician perform any electrical work, including hooking up an emergency or backup generator.
Properly Plan Your Housework
Most of the time, you don’t need to think about the service lines bringing power into your home. Unless something goes wrong, most power infrastructure is set up to last for decades. However, it is important to take note of where and how your local lines are located so you know to avoid them when doing other work that could interfere with their transmission and create a dangerous situation.
- Before doing any work near power lines, know where they all are located.
- Before digging or driving posts into the ground, call your utility provider.
- Make sure swimming pools are situated well away from power lines.
- Do not plant trees where they will grow into power lines.
- Install antennas away from power lines at a distance at least equal to the height of the antenna, plus 3 yards.
Avoid Power Lines
A typical transmission line in a residential community carries 13,800 volts of electricity, while a high-capacity power line that carries energy for long distances can pack up to 345,000 volts. Either is more than enough to kill a person who isn’t prudent enough to keep their distance. Take great care to avoid overhead power lines, especially when performing dangerous activities such as:
- Using a ladder
- Pruning or cutting trees
- Cleaning a pool
- Installing or removing an antenna
- Working on the roof
- Carrying long tools or pipes
- Setting up and moving scaffolding
And remember, nothing, including rubber gloves, will protect you from the voltages carried by overhead power lines.
Read more about Power Line Safety.
Avoid Danger Zones
Even if you have your day-to-day electrical safety at home down to a science, you could still encounter unexpected dangers out in the community, most frequently after the grid has sustained damage.
- Always be on the lookout for fallen or sagging wires, especially after storms.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- Never play around power substations, poles, towers, fences, or trees near power lines or electrical equipment.
- Never fly kites near overhead power lines.
- Never spray water guns or hoses at power lines.
- Never try to open, or poke sticks or other objects into, underground transformer boxes.
- Stay out of substations and areas marked 'Keep Out' or 'Danger.' If a ball or toy lands in a high voltage area, call your electric utility to retrieve it.
- Avoid going outdoors during a lightning storm.