May: National Electrical Safety Month!

Each year, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) dedicates the month of May to promoting electrical safety.  According to the ESFI, an estimated 47,000 residential fires are caused by an electrical failure or malfunction, resulting in approximately 400 deaths and 1,500 injuries totaling more than $1.4 billion in property damage.

Whether you rent or own your home, electrical safety should be a priority.  ESFI has an educational library of resources for assisting homeowners, consumers, older adults and children on electrical safety.

Follow these tips to help keep your home and family safe:

Exercise Extension Cord Safety – When improperly used, extension cords can overheat and cause fires.  Over 3,000 house fires are due to extension cord misuse, causing roughly 50 fatalities and 300 injuries each year.

  • Don’t plug extension cords into one another or overload them
  • Check cord for proper rating for their intended use
  • Inspect for cracks, frays, loose wires and connections
  • Do not nail or staple cords to walls or baseboards
  • Keep all outdoor extension cords clear of snow and water

Practice Do-it-Yourself Safety – Many home owners prefer to tackle DIY projects in the home.  However, there is an estimated average of 70 deaths by consumer product electrocution, annually, and 400 fatal electrocutions across the United States each year.

  • Avoid projects beyond your skill level
  • Turn off the power to the circuit you plan to work on at the circuit breaker main panel
  • Unplug appliances or other equipment before working on it
  • Test wires before touching them to ensure they’re not live
  • Never attempt to handle gas pipes when working on an electrical project

Maintain Working Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Almost 3,000 people die in house fires in the United States each year.  That’s roughly eight people per day.  Nearly two-thirds of those occur in homes with nonfunctioning or with no installed smoke detectors.

  • Install smoke detectors in every bedroom or sleeping area, on every level
  • Interconnected alarms, where one alarm triggers the rest, offer the most protection
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested once a month
  • For the most reliable protection, replace the batteries according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Smoke detectors should be replaced every ten years

Utilize Home Safety Checklists – Simple checklists can help you identify and correct electrical and fire hazards in your home before an emergency occurs.

  • Check to make sure your switches and outlets are working properly
  • Switches and outlets should not be warm to the touch
  • Note any discoloration from heat buildup
  • Listen for unusual cracking, sizzling, or buzzing noises coming from outlets and switches
  • Check for loose fitting plugs which can cause overheating and fires

If you aren’t completely certain how to tackle a project involving electricity, don’t try it!  Contact a professional electrician and leave it to the experts.  Your life, and that of your family, may depend upon it.

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