Following electrical safety best practices in your home helps you to prevent accidents and maintain a safe living environment. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), damaged or defective wiring or electrical equipment is responsible for 69 percent of all electrical fires. These include fires caused by lamps, light fixtures, cords, plugs, and transformers. To keep your home safe, consider the following electrical safety tips.
Proper Maintenance Matters
The first step in keeping your home and loved ones safe is to keep all your electrical systems, appliances, cords, and outlets in good working order. Here are some things to add to your task list.
Conduct Regular Inspections
You should frequently check your home's electrical cords, outlets, and appliances for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any issues, replace the damaged items immediately to prevent potential hazards.
If you need to troubleshoot electrical problems, always turn off the power and notify your family before you do so to ensure everyone's safety during the process.
Clean Fans Annually
Dust can accumulate and inhibit proper fan operation. For ventilation, ceiling, and other fans, clean and lubricate moving parts annually to maintain their efficiency.
Check Outdoor Electrical Panels for Pests
Inspect outdoor electrical panels for pests like wasps that may build nests inside. Apply wasp spray around the exterior of the panel to prevent infestations. Avoid spraying electrical panels with water to prevent electrocution.
Properly Store Cords
Store electrical cords properly to prevent damage and avoid creating trip hazards. Avoid pinching cords under furniture or placing them in high-traffic areas.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Having certain tools and systems in place will prepare your home for an emergency. From preventative measures to upgraded outlets, these steps place you in a better position, just in case.
Keep Fire Extinguishers on Hand
Keep a fire extinguisher in critical areas of your home, including the kitchen, bedrooms, garage, playrooms, workshops, outdoor kitchens, laundry and utility rooms, and other places where it can be accessed quickly in case of emergencies. Ensure that the extinguisher is rated for electrical fires.
Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) in areas where water is present, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor spaces. GFCIs can quickly shut off power if they detect a ground fault, preventing electric shock. Test them monthly to ensure they're working properly.
Consider Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters
Consider installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) to shut off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs. You should test these monthly, too.
Use Tamper-Resistant Outlets
If you have young children, install tamper-resistant outlets to prevent them from inserting objects into the outlets. You should also use box- or plug-style outlet covers.
Proper Light Bulb Wattage
Use the correct wattage for your light fixtures, and never install a bulb with a wattage higher than recommended. Doing so can lead to overheating and pose a fire hazard. Consider using energy-efficient LED bulbs to save money. They’re also cool to the touch, which makes them safer.
Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level, near bedrooms, and in the kitchen. Replace their batteries semi-annually to keep them in good working condition. You should also check the smoke detectors once a month.
Maintain Clear Access to Electrical Panels
Ensure that electrical panels are always accessible and avoid placing objects in front of them, as this can hinder access during emergencies.
Verify that appliances have room to operate and adequate airflow for cooling to prevent overheating.
Electrical Safety Best Practices
In general, following these best practices will keep you safer and better prepared.
Avoid Overloading Circuits
Be mindful of the amount of wattage you draw from a single circuit. If circuit breakers frequently trip, it's a sign of overload that should be addressed.
Investigate Flickering Lights
If you notice flickering lights, it may be as simple as a loose bulb or wire, but it can also be a sign of a more significant electrical issue that should be inspected.
Inspect After Purchase or Remodels
When buying a new home or planning a remodel, have it inspected by a licensed electrician to verify it is safe and in compliance with local requirements.
Avoid Fire Hazards
Prevent potential fires by keeping flammable materials like fuel (gas, propane, etc.), curtains, towels, and paper away from heat-producing appliances. Exercise caution when using portable heaters, as they generate significant heat and may cause a fire if placed too close to flammable materials.
Be Mindful of Water and Electricity
Keep electrical appliances away from water sources, and never touch electrical items with wet hands or when standing on a wet surface, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
Check for Warm Outlets
Outlets should always remain cool to the touch. If you notice warm outlets, have them inspected by a licensed electrician.
Use Appliances Safely
Unplug appliances when they are not in use, do not touch electrical appliances with wet hands, and never use damaged appliances. Unplugging unused appliances not only saves power but also reduces the risk of electrical accidents. Avoid using extension cords whenever possible.
Avoid Overloading Outlets
Do not overload outlets or power strips. Distribute your electrical devices across different outlets and avoid daisy-chaining multiple power strips together.
Education is Critical
Teach every age-appropriate member of your household how to properly use appliances, unplug cords, operate the breakers, and contact emergency services. Here are more details about how to educate your crew.
Know Where to Find Breakers
During emergencies, it's essential that everyone in your household knows how to shut off the electricity at the main switch or breaker panel to prevent accidents or fires.
Read the Instructions
Always read the instructions for appliances, tools, and other electrical and electronic devices to ensure proper and safe usage.
Teach your family, especially children, about electrical safety. Emphasize the importance of not playing with electrical outlets or cords and develop a family safety plan for occasional review.
Avoid DIY Electrical Work
Electrical work can be dangerous, especially for those with little or no electrical experience. Leave electrical repairs, installations, and upgrades to licensed professionals, ensuring that they meet safety standards.
When to Call a Licensed Electrician
If you encounter the following problems, it's best to call a licensed electrician:
Dimming or flickering lights
Sparking outlets or panels
Frequently blown circuit breakers
Warm or discolored switches or outlets
Experiencing an electrical shock or tingle when touching electrical appliances
Detecting an electrical burning smell
Following these electrical safety tips can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and create a safer living environment for you and your family. For any electrical issues or concerns, it's always best to consult a qualified electrician, such as the friendly professionals at Thomas Edison Electric.
We can provide expert guidance and assistance in ensuring your home's electrical safety. Your safety is our priority, so don't hesitate to reach out for any electrical service needs. We serve areas across Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, Delaware County, Adams County, and Philadelphia County. Schedule an appointment or give us a call today!
Why Thomas Edison Electric?
With Thomas Edison in your corner, you don’t have to face electrical problems alone. Our team will work tirelessly to ensure your peace of mind, any time of day or night. We have highly trained & licensed electricians available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Our skilled professionals deliver safe, affordable, long-lasting electrical services.
Your time is precious. If we’re late, we’ll waive your dispatch fee.
Transparent pricing means written quotes with no surprises.
Your Trusted Local Electrician
Homeowners and business owners trust Thomas Edison for our transparent quotes, on-time arrival, and 24-hour service. We cover everything from emergency electrical issues to home EV charging stations to house rewiring and upgrades.