What's inside is as important as what's outside
Just as regular health checkups are important for personal wellness, Rocky Mountain Power reminds the public that routine safety checkups are critical for maintaining electrical safety at their home.
"Raising awareness about electrical safety issues is key to reducing home electrical accidents and injuries," said Mike Felice, Rocky Mountain Power safety director. "When we are all watching for good practices and working to correct problem issues, we can reduce the number of electrical accidents and make our living and working environments more safe."
Felice reminds the public that the two populations most vulnerable to poor safety practices are the very young and the elderly. Adults can be continually vigilant in educating young children about good electrical safety habits. They also can be on the lookout for unsafe electrical practices of other adults, including the elderly.
"Most times, violating good electrical safety practices is just a matter of lack of attention on the part of an individual. That's why we are always reminding our customers and the public about the rules of electrical safety," Felice said.
Below is a good checklist to evaluate the electrical safety level of your home.
Switches and outlets
Check all switches and outlets to see if they are working properly. Improperly operating switches or outlets, including any that may feel warm to the touch, may indicate an unsafe wiring condition which could cause a fire hazard.
Look for any outlets or switches that are discolored. Discoloration signifies dangerous heat buildup in the connections.
Listen for crackling, buzzing or hissing sounds coming from switches or outlets. Unusual noises may indicate an unsafe wiring condition such as loose electrical connections.
Make sure plugs fit snugly into all outlets. Loose-fitting plugs can cause overheating and fires.
Look at all cords. If any are frayed or otherwise damaged, replace them. Damage to cords may expose wires that can be a shock or fire hazard.
Never allow cords to become pinched by furniture, doors or windows. Pinching cords can cause damage to the insulation or can break wire strands that can cause shocks or fires.Â The same precaution applies to attaching cords to anything with nails or staples.
Allowing cords to be placed underneath carpets inhibits the air flow around the cord, allowing heat to build up and creating a fire hazard.
Extension cords are designed to be used only temporarily. Extended use may damage the cord and lead to fire or electrical shock.
Unwrap cords. When cords are kept wrapped together, heat can build up leading to melting or weakening of the insulation.
Lamps and appliances
Use the appropriate wattage light bulb in all lamps and fixtures. Using bulbs with a wattage higher than recommended may overheat the fixture, the wiring or nearby combustible material leading to a fire. Use bulbs of 60 watts or less if you are unsure of the appropriate wattage.
Place all appliance cords in such a way that they will not come in contact with hot surfaces and become damaged.
Do you have recurring tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses? This is an indication that there is an electrical problem and you should call a licensed electrician immediately.
Circuit breakers and fuses are safety devices the help prevent overloading of the home electrical system. Make sure to have the correct sizes used in all cases. A licensed electrician can help determine what's appropriate.
Check to see if you have arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) installed in your electrical panel as they provide greater electrical fire protection. Consider having a licensed electrician replace any old-standard circuit breakers with AFCIs.
Test AFCIs monthly using the TEST button on the AFCI. Have a licensed electrician replace defective units.
More electrical safety information is available at www.rockymountainpower.net/safety. In addition, the Electrical Safety Foundation International has information at www.esfi.org, including materials to help teach children about electrical safety.