According to the National Institutes of Health, some 1,000 people die in the United States each year because of electric shock. Additionally, home electrical problems account for 28,600 fires and $1.1 billion in property losses every year. Prevent accidents, injury and damage by conducting a simple electrical safety audit every year or so.
Make sure none of your electrical cords are frayed, cracked or damaged. Damaged cords may have exposed live wires that can be shock and fire hazards. Replace your damaged cords or replace the equipment.
When you’re looking at your cords, be sure they cannot be stepped on. Heavy traffic can damage cords, crushing insulation or breaking wire strands.
Pay special attention to your kitchen appliances. According to FEMA, the primary factor in kitchen fires was unattended equipment. Make sure all of your appliances are unplugged when they’re not in use. Unattended, plugged-in appliances may create an unnecessary risk of fire. Also, be sure all the appliance cords are kept away from hot surfaces (e.g. oven, range burners, toaster). The cords may melt or burn from excess heat.
Double check all of your lamps and ceiling fixtures. Is each bulb the appropriate wattage for the fixture? If you aren’t sure, use a bulb 60 watts (or 60 watt equivalent if you’re looking at CFLs) or less. A bulb that is a higher wattage than recommended is a fire hazard, and may overheat the light fixture. Also, if you’re replacing a single holiday bulb, be sure to replace with a bulb that has the same wattage.
Cover the outlets in your house if you have children. Close to 4,000 injuries associated with electrical outlets are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year, and about one-third of these occurs when kids insert metal objects like keys and hairpins into the outlets. You’ll find outlet covers at your local hardware store starting at $2.
Keep extension cords out of reach of children. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), electrical burns to the mouth account for half of the extension-cord-related injuries to young children.