Safety starts with you
Tips for spotting electrical hazards in your home
May 2, 2019 – Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from powering baby monitors, cell phones, and lighting, to running heating and air systems and appliances. No wonder we get so comfortable with its instant availability that when we flip a switch, we expect most systems or devices to do the job.
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and here at West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation, we think it’s a great time to look around your home and check for potential safety hazards.
Remember, every electrical device has a purpose and a service life. While we can extend their operations with maintenance and care, none of them are designed to last or work forever. When electricity is involved, failures can present electrical hazards that might be avoided with periodic inspections.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Outdoor outlets or those in potentially damp locations in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room often include GFCI features. They are designed to sense abnormal current flows and open the circuit to prevent potential electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets.
The average GFCI outlet is designed to last about 10 years, but they can wear out sooner. Check them frequently by pressing the test button. Make sure you hit the reset button when you are done. Contact a licensed electrician to replace any failing GFCI outlets.
Loose or Damaged Outlets or Switches
Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration can offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards. Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these warning signs, it may be time to contact an electrician to replace faulty outlets and switches.
Power strips with surge protectors can help safeguard expensive equipment like televisions, home entertainment systems, and computer components from power surges. When selecting a surge protector, do your homework. Choose a model that is UL listed and look for the words surge protection, fused strip, or interrupter switch. A basic power strip most likely does not offer surge protection, so pay attention.
Some surge protectors have indicator lights that flicker a warning if they’ve stopped working as designed, but many do not. If your electrical system takes a hit, or if you don’t remember when you bought your surge protector, replacement may be the best option.
If you use extension cords regularly to connect devices and equipment to your wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. With a growing number of electrical devices connecting your family to the electricity you get from West Kentucky RECC, having enough outlets in just the right spots can be challenging. Remember, extension cords are designed for temporary, occasional or periodic use.
If an extension cord gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended use. If it shows any signs of frayed, cracked, or heat-damaged insulation, it should be replaced. If the grounding prong is missing, crimped or loose, a grounded cord will not provide the protection it was designed to provide. And always make sure that extension cords used outdoors, or in potentially damp locations, are rated for exterior use.
Electricity is an essential necessity for modern living, and West Kentucky RECC is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable power to all of our members. Keep these electrical safety tips in mind and address any potential hazards before damage occurs.