In the United States, on average 400 people die from electrocution and 4,400 are injured each year. Most of these deaths and injuries can be prevented. May is National Electric Safety Month, so we want to take this opportunity to remind you of 10 ways to avoid electrical safety hazards:
- Never handle electric appliances with wet hands. Never use electric appliances in wet or damp conditions unless the appliances are specifically rated for this use.
- Protect electric outlets close to sources of water. Electric outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and garages should be ground fault circuit interrupting (GFCI) outlets to reduce the chance of electric shock. Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) can also be added to enhance protection from fires.
- Secure electric sockets around small children. Toddlers can insert objects into electric outlets that are not covered properly. Outlets within reach should be protected with plastic closures that fit snugly and cannot easily be removed.
- Eliminate defective or worn electric wires. Inspect all appliances and extension cords regularly to ensure that they are in good condition. Cords should not be loose or frayed and should have a grounding prong intact if so equipped.
- Never work on electric equipment with the power on. When doing work on electric equipment, ensure that all sources of electricity to the appliance are turned off. Be sure to shut off the correct breaker. A simple voltage tester can be purchased for home use at a local electrical supply store.
- Never pour water on an electric fire. Water acts as a conductor and can cause shock. Use a fire extinguisher that is rated as Class C for use on electric fires.
- Leave wiring to professionals. Proper electric wiring is critical and must meet codes and standards of safety. Use a licensed professional who can do the job safely and correctly.
- Watch for overheating bulbs and lights. Lights and bulbs can be heat sources and must be kept away from flammable materials like upholstery, drapes, bedding and cribs. Never exceed the maximum wattage specified for the device.
- Don’t misuse extension cords. Never use extension cords as a permanent substitute for additional outlets. Also, don’t overload extension cords and block off any unused outlets. Discard them if they have worn out wires or loose connections.
- Check for covered cords and wires. Electric wires and cords radiate heat. Never cover wires with rugs or furniture. They could overheat and start a fire.
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