Electricity is all around us. It not only powers our household electronics and workplace equipment, but it also helps power nature. It generates lightning, helps animals in defense, and even powers the human body by sending signals throughout our body and brain, allowing us to think, move, and feel.
Electricity also plays a vital role in our modern economy. It powers the industries we depend on, the mode of communication that keeps us all connected, and our ever-advancing mode of transportation that transports goods and people.
While electricity is critical to our survival, it can also cause injuries and, worse, death.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 400 electrocution incidents occur in the United States each year. Of them, 180 are associated with consumer products, primarily home appliances. And landscaping, gardening, and farming equipment are responsible for 67% of all electrocutions each year.
How can you keep electrocution incidents from happening in your home?
Begin by examining your home wirings. If you live in a newer home, suppose the wiring has been installed per local safety codes and inspected by a municipal inspector, the wiring should be safe from hazards. Otherwise, have them examined by your local licensed wiring inspector.
On the other hand, if your house is 20 years older, electrical codes may not have been updated with more stringent safety measures. So, consider having a complete house wiring inspection by a licensed electrical contractor familiar with the current building codes.
You also consider scheduling an inspection if you have recently performed a significant wiring repair or modification without the assistance of a licensed electrician.
If a complete wiring inspection is not required, you can perform a quick safety check for a low cost and in a short amount of time. You will only need a circuit tester. You plug the tester into each outlet, and it will immediately tell you if there is a problem.
You should still be cautious even if there are no problems with the wirings. Electrical shocks can occur even when performing minor electrical repairs like replacing a light switch, installing an electrical outlet or a light fixture, or attempting to repair an appliance. All these minor repairs do not usually require the help of an electrician, but they do necessitate caution.
Here are 16 general safety tips for working with or near electricity, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:
- Before using portable cord-and-plug connected equipment, extension cords, power bars, and electrical fittings, check them for damage or wear. Immediately replace or repair damaged equipment.
- When hanging or attaching extension cords to walls or floors, use tape. Never use nails and staples to avoid damaged extension cords, fires, and shocks.
- Equipment and extension wires must be rated for the level of amperage or wattage that you are using.
- Replace the damaged fuse with the correct size. Using a larger fuse can result in excessive currents in the wiring, which could start a fire.
- Unusually warm or hot outlets or cords is an indication of faulty wiring. Immediately avoid using them until they have been inspected by a qualified electrician.
- When working with or near electricity or power lines, always use ladders with non-conductive side rails.
- Avoid putting halogen lights near combustible materials like clothes or curtains, as they can catch fire if they get too hot.
- Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to interrupt the electrical circuit before a current sufficient to kill or injure someone arises. Keep in mind that the risk of electrical shock is higher in wet areas.
- If you are unsure that the receptacle you are plugging your extension cord into is GFCI protected, use a portable in-line Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).
- Ensure that exposed electrical receptacle boxes are made of non-conductive materials.
- Familiarize the location of the panel and circuit breakers in case of an emergency.
- Label each circuit breaker and fuse box switch to quickly determine which outlet or appliance they are for.
When performing electrical repairs, you must determine which circuit breaker controls the current to the damaged outlet or appliance and turn it off to ensure safety. You can use a continuity tester to ensure that the circuit breaker has been completely turned off and that zero electricity flows to the repair site.
To do the test, connect the two metal probes of the continuity tester to the two wires supplying current to the device you are working on. If there is current, it will light up. It will not if there is no current. It's that simple, but it ensures your safety while you work on your repair.
13. Repair or replace outlets or cords that have exposed wiring.
14. Do not use portable cord-and-plug connected power tools without the guards.
15. Ensure panels and circuit breakers or fuse boxes are easily accessible. 16. Always disconnect the power source first in the event of an electrical incident, and avoid touching a person or an electrical apparatus.
When doing electrical work at home, we often become too complacent. However, complacency can lead to injuries, even death.
You already have everything you need to work safely with electricity. Remember those pointers for your next repair.
Also, remember that spending a few dollars on more advanced and safer electrical instruments or devices, or consulting an electrical expert, will not harm you. These measures can safeguard your family and the legacy you wish to pass on to your children—your home.
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Electrical safety statistics - 400 electrocution incidents occur in the United States each year. Of them, 180 are associated with consumer products, primarily home appliances. And landscaping, gardening, and farming equipment are responsible for 67% of all electrocutions each year.Source: https://www.nickleelectrical.com/electrical-safety-statistics/
Electrical Safety – Basic Information - General safety tips for working with or near electricity.Source: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/electrical.html
Electricity, an Essential Necessity in our Life - Electricity not only plays a big part in our daily lives at home, but it is extremely important for all the things that go on in the world around us in our modern life, such as industry that we depend on, communication as in form of radio, television, e-mail, the Internet, etc. Transport is another aspect of our daily life that depends on electricity to some degree.Source: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-23537-0_2