Even if you think your home is free of all electrical hazards, it’s always in your best interest to double-check. After all, these dangers not only increase your risk of electrocution but also your home’s risk of a house fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that from 2012 to 2016, house fires involving electrical malfunction or failure resulted in:
an estimated average of 440 civilian deaths yearly
1,250 civilian injuries yearly
an estimated $1.3 billion in direct property damage yearly
5 COMMON HOUSEHOLD ELECTRICAL HAZARDS
While some electrical hazards are easy to spot, others are less obvious. Keep your home, family, and yourself safe by avoiding these typical dangers below.
1. Overloaded Outlets
When you use a multi-outlet converter to plug in multiple electronics into a single outlet, you run the risk of overloading the outlet--drawing more power to it than it’s designed to handle safely. This increases the risk of an electrical fire. If you’ve run out of places to plug things in, contact an electrician to install more outlets for you.
2. Outlets and Appliances Too Close To Water
Because water conducts electricity, it’s risky to handle plugged-in electronics near wet areas like sinks, bathtubs, and pools. You can reduce your risk of fatal electrocution by either removing these outlets or replacing them with GFCI outlets.
3. Improper Extension Cord Use
Extension cords should only be used for temporary purposes and should not be used as a permanent substitute for lack of wiring. To avoid electrical fires and other accidents, make sure that you never use:
an indoor-only extension cord outdoors;
an extension cord plugged into another extension cord;
an extension cord plugged into a portable power strip (or vice versa).
4. Improper Power Strip Use
Power strips are only designed to handle small electronics. Plugging appliances that draw a lot of power into one of these devices can overload it and start a fire. Even appliances that are small in size (like hairdryers, microwaves, blenders, and coffee makers) use a lot of power when operating, so never plug these into a power strip.
5. Damaged Wires and Cords
The metal of an exposed cord or wire can shock you or start a fire. Keep an eye out for cords on your electronics that have been cut up by sharp furniture corners or chewed by animals. You can cover small punctures with electrical tape, but the safest route is to replace damaged cords. Also, check for wiring that has corroded or melted due to overheating or old age.