It’s National Electrical Safety Month, so we thought it would be a bright idea to give you a few electrical safety tips for your home. After all, we don’t want you to be left in the dark when you have the power to control your home’s electrical systems. (That’s not the last pun. We promise.)
Tip #1: Watch your power cords
Electrical cords cause more than 3,000 home fires annually, 50 deaths and more than 270 injuries. While extension cords are great when you want to use your vacuum cleaner in the next room, they are only intended for temporary use. They can also crack and fray over time. To prevent a dangerous situation, inspect electrical cords before every use and toss them if you see any damage. Never run power cords under carpets or furniture, and never use tacks or nails to hold them in place.
Tip #2 – Use the correct wattage
A higher than recommended wattage bulb in a light fixture or lamp can damage the wiring and create a fire risk. When changing a light bulb, ensure you are using the correct wattage. There should be a sticker indication the number of watts to use near the socket. It’s also good practice to take a picture of your instructions or the wattage indication on the box of any new fixtures or lamps. Then, upload that information into your Home Profile in the vipHomeLink home management app!
Also, consider switching to LED light bulbs, which generate less heat, have a lower risk of fire, and are energy efficient. They also last longer, which is great for your budget.
Tip #3 – Don’t abuse your electrical outlets
The National Fire Protection Association notes that more than 47,000 home fires come from electrical failure and malfunction. Keep your home safe by looking for warning signs. These include warm or darkened outlets, a smoky or burnt smell, mild shock or tingling, or flickering lights. If your circuit breakers continue to trip or your fuses burn out repeatedly, contact a professional electrician to investigate the issue.
Tip #4 – Get smart with your plugs
Perfect for commuting or traveling (after stay-at-home orders lift), smart plugs give you unparalleled control over your non-smart home devices. If you can’t remember if you left the curling iron on – no worries! Simply head into the app and turn off the outlet.
Smart plugs also allow you to schedule your devices, so your living room lamp turns on before you get home or at a certain time while you’re on vacation. They also monitor the heat of your older outlets and alert you before a problem occurs.
Tip #5 – One major appliance, one outlet
It’s simple advice that generally is overlooked. Plug your appliances directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord or multi-outlet converter, and use a different outlet for each appliance. This means, your dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator need different outlets. It’s the same deal with your washer, dryer, treadmill, and your wall-unit air conditioners. If you notice you don’t have enough outlets for this, then contact licensed electricians to install more. (This is safer and will not raise your electric bill – or at least, it won’t change the amount of electricity that flows into your home.)
Tip# 6 – Install AFCIs and GFCIs
(What can we say? Electricians love their acronyms!) Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are a type of circuit breaker that can detect harmful electrical arcs in home electrical wiring and turn off the power before a fire starts. According to a study conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), up to 50% of home electrical fires can be prevented by installing these types of breakers in a home.
Another dangerous home situation can be prevented with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). By installing these awesome outlets into the “wet” areas of your home – bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, even outdoor areas and your basement – you can help prevent electrocution. These devices “trip” a breaker in the outlet or the panel when they detect an interruption in the power. (Example: Dropping a curling iron in the bathroom sink.) Thus, the GFCI helps to protect homeowners from an electric (and potentially deadly) shock.
Learn more about GFCIs in our app’s vipTIPS.
Tip #7 – Never operate generators inside the home
As severe storms roll in, you’re more likely to suffer power outages and more likely to use a generator (or buy one). Generators provide power to a finite number of devices in your home and must be operated with care to avoid electrical hazards. They also produce toxic carbon monoxide, which is why you shouldn’t operate a generator within 20 feet of your home (or inside your garage). Before using a generator, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are active with backup batteries, just in case.
Also, contact a licensed electrician to install your generator as there are local electrical codes you may need to follow, such as installing a transfer switch.
Get expert tips at your fingertips
While May is National Electrical Safety Month, home safety is important every day. Our digital home management app vipHomeLink provides you with personalized reminders for home maintenance and tailored recommendations for home improvement projects. We also provide additional electrical safety tips for your home in our vipTIPs, so you can prevent fires and keep your family safe all year round.
Check out vipHomeLink now with our current offer of monthly or annual memberships.