Many people don’t think about the electrical wiring in their homes unless they lose power or have a short circuit. However, everyone needs to be aware of common electrical safety hazards so that they can prevent accidents, injuries and death due to electrical problems.
Safety Hazard #1 – Defective Wires
Defective or torn electric wires are serious safety hazards. Damaged wires can overheat when electric appliances are in use, leading to fires. It’s especially important to check wires that are located underneath carpets or are otherwise hidden from view. Homeowners are less likely to notice damage to these wires, which increases the risk of fire.
If possible, avoid putting wires under carpets or rugs. Not only does this hide damaged wires from view, but it also makes it more likely the wires will get damaged in the first place. Stepping on wires can cause them to become frayed and damaged more easily.
Safety Hazard #2 – Water Hazards
Using electricity near water is particularly dangerous. Water is a strong electrical conductor, so using electrical appliances while wet or standing in water can cause people to get an electric shock, sometimes with fatal results.
Most people know not to use electrical appliances while standing in water–for example, don’t use a hairdryer while sitting in a full bathtub–but are not aware that placing electric outlets close to water can have the same effect. Not only is it tempting to use electrical appliances near water if there is an outlet right there, but there is a chance that water could get inside the outlet or otherwise interfere with the current from the outlet. It’s best to install outlets far away from sources of water so that accidents don’t happen.
Safety Hazard #3 – Uncovered Outlets
If you have children or pets, it’s important to cover electric outlets. Unprotected electrical sockets are hazardous to young children and pets because they don’t know better than to play with them. Children are especially at risk for electric shock from playing with sockets because they have the ability to stick various objects into the socket. Putting metal objects into sockets will cause electric shock; metal is only second to water as a conductor of electricity. Children should be taught never to put anything in an electric socket except the plugs to appliances as soon as they are old enough to understand.
Pets also may be at risk if you leave your outlets uncovered. A curious cat or dog might stick his nose in too far while sniffing an electric outlet or otherwise get an electric shock. For safety’s sake, cover your outlets even if you don’t have children so that your pets can’t get into them.
Safety Hazard #4 – Paper Near Appliances
Electric appliances themselves can be dangerous if the area near them is not kept clean enough. It’s especially important not to use appliances near paper. Appliances can get hot while they are in use; if a hot appliance comes in contact with paper, it might start a fire. Remove paper and other clutter from the area if you plan to use a toaster oven, hair dryer or other electric appliance.
Safety Hazard #5 – Broken Appliances
Broken appliances are particularly dangerous because electric current might flow through them unpredictably. If an appliance is broken, do not use it until it has been repaired. Always shut off power at the circuit breaker before replacing broken light bulbs or fixing appliances yourself. You should check appliances regularly for broken parts and corroded wires.