How to Safeguard Your Family Against Winter Electrical Hazards
Winter is the perfect time to unpack the electrical blankets, plug in the heater, or curl up in front of the fire. As you keep warm, however, you’ll also want to pay extra attention to electrical safety. With the increased use of heaters and other appliances, winter can be more dangerous when it comes to electrical faults. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to take a few preventative measures to safeguard you and your family against electrical hazards.
1. Inspect electrical appliances and equipment
Start winter by checking your electrical appliances and equipment for faults. Look out for loose connections, frayed wires and cords, and pinched insulation on wires. Cracked, overheated, and otherwise damaged wiring can also be hazardous.
From heaters and smoke alarms to lighting and sockets, do a thorough check of everything in your property. At any sign of damage, replace the appliance or have equipment checked and repaired.
It’s a good idea to work with a qualified electrician when you’re checking your office or home. He or she can check your electrical equipment is compliant with the relevant American standards. They can also check your safety switches.
2. Heater and light placement
Refresh your safety knowledge when it comes to using plug-in heaters and lights. Clean heaters to remove dust build-up. Place heaters in open spaces rather than enclosed areas such as under the desk. Setting heaters in enclosed spaces could lead to overheating and fire. Never leave powered-on heaters unattended.
Keep light bulbs well away from flammable materials such as plastics, upholstery, drapes, and bedding. Before changing light bulbs, switch off the light and unplug the light from the socket. Use the correct wattage to avoid overheating.
3. Electric blankets and beds
Check electric blankets and beds (such as heated pet beds) before use. Ensure there’s no damage, distortion, or wires poking out. Always turn electric blankets and beds off when not in use and keep heavy items off them to avoid accidental damage.
4. Water and electrical safety
Ideally, outlets in kitchens and bathrooms should be installed a safe distance away from sinks and showers. If they’re not, you might want to use outlet plug covers to prevent accidental contact and electric shock.
Never handle hairdryers and other electrical appliances with wet hands. Remind children about thoroughly drying their hands before using appliances, and staying well away from sinks, baths, and taps when handling appliances.
5. Cords and extension cords
Plug appliances and office peripherals directly into the socket whenever possible. If you need to use an extension cord, keep them fixed in place with cord organizers to prevent tripping. Placing them under carpet might not eliminate the risk of tripping, so use floor cord protectors if you must run extension cords along the floor.
Keep cords away from hot surfaces such as heaters and avoid covering them with blankets and other items where possible, as covering cords can lead to overheating. Use socket covers on unused sockets, and don’t overload your extension cords by plugging in too many appliances.
If you’re powering appliances at home in the garden, remember to use outdoor-grade extension cords. These are designed for heavy duty use and are typically waterproof.
Take measures to keep children, especially babies and toddlers, away from potential hazard areas. Along with using socket plug covers, keep wiring and cords out of their reach, and ensure they’re kept away from heaters and other running appliances.
Get down to their level and audit your property from a child’s perspective. Along with protecting them from cords and appliances, take additional measures to keep appliances in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens out of their reach.
7. Safely store summer appliances
As you get ready for winter, check your summer appliances for signs of damage. It’s a good time to check your fans, air humidifiers, and air conditioners for wire damage before storing them away.
8. Leave space around appliances
Every appliance should have enough empty space around it so its internal cooling system can work effectively. This applies to items such as computers and TVs, as well as refrigerators and freezers. Check each appliance carefully, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for empty space, and adjust their positions.
9. Dealing with electrical fires
If an electrical fire does occur, don’t pour water on the flames, as this will only fuel the fire. Instead, use a fire extinguisher. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher on hand, leave your house immediately and call the fire brigade.
10. Get expert help
Always have a licensed, experienced electrician check your property’s wiring to see if there’s any damage. Electricians have special equipment enabling them to conduct accurate safety tests. They can assist with checking your safety switch or installing one for you if you don’t have one, or if your existing switch is faulty.
Taking extra electrical care during winter
In winter, it’s worth reviewing general electrical safety strategies and checking your property for possible hazards. The practical steps you take could reduce the risk of electrical fires, while protecting your children or others using your property from electrical shocks.
Linc Electricians are a market leader servicing household, business, and industrial customers. If you have any queries about how what our ultra-reliable, helpful electricians can do for you, contact us today for more information.