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5 tips for electrical safety in your home

May 8, 2020 | Laura King-Homan | safety, tips
11945765 – close up of an orange power plug

Electrical safety can mean the difference between a house fire, injury or property damage.

In 2011, electrical failures caused nearly 44,000 home fires in the United States. They resulted in 430 deaths, 1,620 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage. In addition to fires, more than 300 people are electrocuted while more experience nonfatal electrical shock and burn injuries.

Many electrocutions and home fires could be prevented by having a simple understanding of electrical safety principles and being safe in general. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has a variety of resources to educate homeowners. Here are five topics to educate yourself on for optimum electrical safety in your home.

Prior to doing any electrical repairs or improvements in the home, always be sure you turn off the applicable breaker or unscrew the fuse that pertains to that outlet or fixture. Even with the light switch or fixture turned off, there is still power going to the source – it’s where the concept of ‘Phantom Load’ comes from.

Prevent electrical overloads

Overloaded outlets and circuits are one of the biggest causes of residential fires. This graphic tells you more.

SAF_May Electric Safety Month_overload graphics

Practice extension cord safety

When you overload these cords, or don’t use them properly, they can cause fires. This graphic explains the dos and don’ts around extension cords.

SAF_May Electric Safety Month_extension cord graphic

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

You need to know more than just having a working smoke alarm to ensure you’re family can escape from a fire emergency. While a working smoke alarm cuts the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half, two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes without them. Check out these tips for proper installation of smoke alarms.

Home safety checklists

Ensuring your home is safe from electrical hazards may seem overwhelming, but a great way to make it more manageable is to follow these checklists for a variety of home safety topics.

Always look up

Before you start any home project, take stock of your surroundings, including overhead, so you know where power lines are located. This graphic gives more tips.

SAF_May Electric Safety Month_home projects graphic

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a brand journalism strategist at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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