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If Your Toaster Smokes & Other Electrical Safety Tips

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Jessica
03.06.12

It’s 6 AM. The last thing you want to deal with first thing in the morning is a broken blender or a smoking toaster. Especially before you’ve had your first cup of coffee. But these pesky problems should perk you up, because even a little appliance can cause electrical shock or be a fire hazard. So, what do you do if your beloved hair dyer is on the fritz or your disposal is making strange noises. Let’s play a quick game of WHAT IF?

What if your blender smokes? Unplug it immediately and be careful not to touch it. You may have to turn the power off at your breaker box if there’s no way you can pull the plug without touching the blender.  Once it has cooled completely, you can toss it out.

What if your toaster sparks? Don’t throw water on it! If the sparks are small, grab your fire extinguisher to safely get rid of the flames. Then, call 9-1-1. Even if you can’t see it, the wiring in your walls might have caught fire, too. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, read Purchase Fire Extinguishers. Starting at $15, fire extinguishers are important because they are a simple and relatively cheap way to protect your home and family from fire. If the fire grows beyond your control, immediately get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1.

What if your light bulb breaks? First, unplug your lamp or turn off the switch to the light fixture. If they’re handy, put on your safety goggles. Using a piece of dry bar soap, carefully push one end of the bar against the bulb and lodge the glass into the soft soap. Twist it free, and discard the bar of soap.

What if your disposal grates? If you flip the switch and hear a grating sound, you’ve likely jammed it with a fork (or other utensil). First, turn off the power at the main circuit breaker. Test to make sure the power is off before sticking anything down the disposal. Then, take the handle off a plunger and try to spin the blades inside the disposal. This should clear up your disposal’s jam! If it fails to un-stick the disposal, it’s time to call in back up.

What if your hair dryer blows? If your hair dryer is blowing only cold air, then your dryer is probably overheating and shutting itself off. Dryers have a small temperature-controlled fuse, so if the dryer heats up too much, the fuse opens up to prevent a fire. You could get the fuse replaced, but hair dryers are so inexpensive that they're generally not worth repairing.  If your hair dryer simply isn’t turning on, the problem might be your ground fault interrupter (GFI). A faulty GFI can lead to serious injury or even death, so be sure to check yours. To learn more, read Test Your Ground Fault Interrupter.

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