Avoid do-it-yourself electrical work. Many homeowners are handy with hammers and other tools, but professionals are better trusted to perform electrical work on a home. (MetroGraphics/Courtesy)
Originally published Friday, April 13, 2018 at 05:58a.m.
Accidents around the home happen. Some are minor and easily brushed off while others can lead to serious injury or financial peril.
Many accidents, even those that are relatively minor, can be prevented. Such is often the case with electrical accidents, which may be more common than many people think.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, resulting in roughly 500 deaths and more than $1 billion in property damage.
Homeowners who want to do all they can to reduce the likelihood of electrical mishaps at home can employ various strategies.
Be mindful of cords and plugs. Cords and plugs can be found throughout the typical home. While few people may perceive cords and plugs as threats, they can serve as catalysts for accident and/or injury.
Cords and plugs should always be kept clear of heat and water sources, and cords should not be placed in areas where they can pose any tripping hazards. Even if residents grow accustomed to cord locations and know to maneuver around them, guests won’t be as familiar.
When pulling plugs from outlets, always pull the plug, and not the cord, to reduce injury risk.
Periodically take inventory of electrical appliances and components. Some electrical appliances age well while others may not.
Periodic inspections of appliances and their components, such as their cords, can reveal wear and tear that can lead to fires or injuries. Replace any items that pose a threat and stop using these items immediately.
Avoid do-it-yourself electrical work. Many homeowners are handy with hammers and other tools, but professionals are better trusted to perform electrical work on a home. The risk of accident or injury when working with wiring and other electrical components is simply too great for untrained homeowners to do on their own.
Unplug appliances before flipping a fuse. Fuses blow from time to time. Some may be knocked out by especially powerful storms, while others may blow because they’re overloaded. Regardless of why fuses blow, homeowners should turn off appliances on blown fuses before flipping those fuses back on.
Leaving appliances running when flipping a fuse can increase the risk of fire or accident. Turn off appliances, unplug them and then turn them back on one by one after the fuse has been flipped.
Be especially cautious if anyone smells gas. Gas leaks are often detected by the aroma of the gas in the air. When such leaks are detected, homeowners should not touch or turn any electrical switches.
Doing so may create a spark that can react with the gas in the air, leading to fire. If a gas leak is detected, go outside and contact a local emergency service.
Many home electrical mishaps can be prevented if homeowners exercise caution and hire certified electrical contractors to handle wiring and other electrical tasks around their homes.