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Electrical hazards are a growing concern in many households, a problem which is aggravated by the presence of children and pets. A lot of electrical hazards are direct or indirect causes for fatal accidents, so it is crucial to understand the types of hazards, the reasons why they occur as well as the right measures to prevent them.
This article covers the top 10 most dangerous home electrical hazards you should be aware of and methods to prevent them.
1. Poor Wiring
Poor wiring at home is the most common cause of dangerous electrical hazards. You should ensure that the wiring system conforms to the appropriate safety standards.
Defective wiring can lead to power surges, fire, and other electrical hazards. It is advisable to avoid do-it-yourself wiring jobs at home and hire a licensed and professional electrician to handle the job.
As our reliance on electricity increases, we increase the risk of electrical hazards at our homes. Alertness is one of the best ways to minimize these hazards.
Maintenance and inspection by a professional electrician is essential to check for corroded, damaged, or worn-out electrical wires that can pose potential hazards. Regular checkup keeps everyone safe and eliminates faulty electrical wires.
2. Old/Damaged Electrical Appliances
While your old appliance might still look and function properly, it can be a potential electrical hazard, as old appliance damages cover a high percentage of electrical hazards in many homes.
Always check your old appliances for frayed cords that are pinched or that have cracked insulation. Damages to cords can be a result of bending, heat or corrosion.
For instance, items like laptops, tablets and smartphone chargers are highly prone to damage, as they are continuously used. It is advisable to replace these cords as soon as any bend or damage is noticed. This can greatly help you avoid electrical mishaps at home.
Children And Pets
The risk of electrical hazards increases in homes with children and pets. Exploring toddlers have a tendency to discover and tamper with electric outlets, using their fingers or other objects.
Toddlers and pets might even pull the cords of electrical appliances, if left unsupervised. Parents should take extra care to purchase wall outlet covers to prevent curious babies, and should also ensure that appliance cords are safely concealed or tucked away from kids.
Pets might also damage wiring by chewing on electric cords, also increasing the risk of electrical damage, and proper monitoring of the pets and concealment of cords is essential.
Another major problem of chewed wiring occurs due to pests, such as rats and other rodents, that can chew through not only appliance wiring, but also wiring within the walls. Consider hiring a pest control professional if you notice pests like mice and other rodents at home.
Water And Wet Hands
Water is a very good conductor of electricity and can lead to fatal accidents when coming in contact. Electrical outlets that are close to water supplies can cause many accidents and it is crucial to install outlets in kitchens and bathrooms as far as possible from the water source.
Code requirements typically define a minimum radius around the water source where no electric outlets are allowed. This distance minimizes the possibility of electric shock. Additionally, it is advisable not to use a phone, radio or hairdryer in the bath, on wet floors or close to the pool.
If it is essential to use such appliances close to wet areas, careful selection must be made to choose wet and water resistant appliances. Another common electrical hazard is handling electrical appliances with wet hands, as this greatly increases the chances of electrical shock.
Many people make the mistake of using a hairdryer right after the shower, while their hands are still wet, which is a risky behaviour.
Lastly, make sure not to use water to put off an electrical fire because it can lead to electrocution. In the case of such a fire, always use a fire extinguisher to put off the flame.
Many homeowners use extension cords to add more devices and extend the performance of their electrical outlets. Loading too many appliances on the same outlet increases the chances of fire, as every outlet is limited by a specific power rating that it can safely supply.
It is essential to check with your electrician concerning the electrical load at home. A professional can determine the electrical load consumed at every outlet to avoid overloading and potential electrical fires.
Be careful how to use your extension cord as it is the leading cause of fires and electric shocks: avoid overloading the circuit at all costs and make sure the extension cord is not used as a permanent substitute for additional sockets.
Overheating And Lightbulbs
New and heavily coated electrical wires can overheat quickly. In order to prevent electric hazards resulting from overheating wires, it is important to ensure proper ventilation and sufficient air flow for appliances, computers and televisions.
Covered wire cords and cords layered under multiple layers of cord have a higher chance of overheating when overloaded.
Houses typically includes several light bulbs and lighting fixtures in each room, and while lighting units are essential for lighting purposes, they can also pose a threat. Always remember to turn off the switch before removing or replacing the light bulb.
Additionally, it is important to ensure that the bulbs are not placed in close proximity to flammable plastics, beddings items, drapes and upholstery.
Proper wattage must be respected when buying and installing new light bulbs, to ensure that the wattage reaching the bulb matches its running capacity, from the direct source or from a driver. It is essential to keep your hands dry when attempting any electrical work involving light bulbs.
Another possible cause of electrical hazards is damaged or old electric blankets. Be very careful when using electric blankets as they can pose a threat to your health and safety.
Proper inspection is required for the blanket regularly, and if you notice any signs of wear in the blankets, replace them right away. More importantly, you should never leave your electric blanket on while sleeping or when outside the house.
Avoid folding the blanket when it’s not used as this can damage the wires inside. Always seek the advice of a professional electrician to inspect and repair the electric blanket before using it.
With time and continued operation, electrical wires become old and worn out. If you don’t inspect them frequently, they might cause major electric hazards.
Worn out electric wires can gradually lose the cover and sheath that covers the copper or aluminum, making them unfit to use by electric safety standards and might eventually lead to electrical fires and power surges. It is also very important to check for loose connections at outlets and switches.
If you have an older house, hire a registered electrician to check the wiring to ensure all the electrical components are working. This inspection will also help them decide if the wiring needs an upgrade or repair.
Electrical hazards can sometimes happen due to carelessness. Our days are centered around the constant use of electronic devices, and sometimes we might forget or neglect the proper methods or instructions for their operation.
A small negligence can lead to a huge problem, so it is vital to take proper care of all your appliances at home to avoid harm from electric shock or other repercussions of malfunctioning devices. Do not attempt to modify or repair them by yourself, and always use the appliance as intended and instructed.
Inspection When Power Is On
Inspecting electrical equipment for faults is very important, however, it is essential to ensure that the power is off to prevent accidents.
It is advisable to turn off both the outlet power source and the appliance source too. You should also allow the appliance to cool down, especially when dealing with light bulbs.
When repairing, moving or maintaining any electrical equipment, it is also important to turn its source power off, shutting it off from the outlet and the panelboard. You should also use a tester to make sure there is no more power on the appliance before you begin any work.
- Inadequate grounding- This is a common problem in many commercial and residential homes. If the grounding is not properly completed, plugging in metal items in the circuits can energize the electrical equipment leading to electrocution.
- Poor insulation- Insulation is crucial when it comes to electricity. If the insulation is damaged or inadequate, this can cause serious electrical hazards. Do not cover the damaged parts with tape if you want to resolve insulation problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some safety measures to avoid electrical hazards?
You can avoid electrical hazards by following and adhering to important safety measures. Some preventive steps include inspecting the wiring of the equipment before use, following safe work practices when handling electrical equipment, minimizing the use of electrical cords and ensuring that multi-plug adapters have fuses or circuit breakers.
Why is it dangerous to work around electrical hazards?
It is dangerous to work around electrical hazards because you are prone to burns and electric shock if you are in contact with the live parts. Electrical hazards can also result in severe injuries and even death. It is essential to avoid working near electrical hazards at all costs.
How do I identify electrical hazards?
There are different ways you can identify electrical hazards at home. Contact between live wires can lead to burns and shock, faulty wiring, exposed electrical parts, inadequate wiring and electrical contact with explosive materials or flammable objects are all examples of electric hazards.
How can I avoid an electrical hazard in my residential space?
Electrical hazards can be avoided if you follow the proper safety measures.
Always ensure your electrical appliances are dry, use the ideal lamps, bulbs, and light fixtures to match the wattage and voltage limits. You should also fit computers and TVs with electrical surge devices to protect them from overheating when not in use.
Pay attention when handling electrical cords and hire experts to handle and complete electrical repairs. You should also hire a professional to inspect the safety of the electrical system in your home.
Who will fix the electrical hazards in my home?
Many homeowners handle electrical hazards on their own and end up creating more problems. It is advisable to seek help from a professional and licensed electrician who can properly and safely deal with electrical problems and hazards when they take place.
All households depend on electricity to operate numerous appliances, devices and for general power functions.
Despite all the benefits of electricity, there are a few hazards that can pose a threat to the safety of the homeowner and household occupants if proper care is not taken when handling electrical equipment and appliances.
Most electrical hazards at home can be prevented if you take the right precautions.
If you understand the potential hazards, their causes and effects, it is easier for you to avoid them. This article highlights the most common hazards that can cause electrical fires at home.
We hope you will follow the listed precautions to maintain the safety of everyone in your household, the right measures can help avoid all these hazards.