Indoor Electrical Safety
Electricity is an extremely valuable and versatile form of energy. Like any
form of energy, electricity must also be treated with care and respect. If
handled carelessly, it can result in serious property damage, injury or death.
Every year, electricity-related incidents in Canada cause approximately: 10,000
fires, 50 deaths by electrocution and 500 hospitalizations (for electrical
injuries excluding burns).
Electricity makes life much more convenient, comfortable and fun.
Refrigerators, air conditioners, microwave ovens, radios, TVs, stereos and
home computers are all made possible by electricity. However,
electricity is continuously seeking all paths to ground through conductors, such
as metal, wet wood, water, or your body. Your body is 70% water and therefore an
excellent conductor for electricity.
An important rule to remember for your home appliances is that electricity
and water don’t mix. Keep appliances, especially hair dryers, away from
bathtubs, puddles, sinks and wet hands. Wet skin increases your risk of shock,
so always unplug an appliance before cleaning it; even if it is turned off, it
can still shock.
Your kitchen and bathroom outlets have a ground fault circuit device (GFCI),
a safety device designed to improve safety when electricity is used in and
around wet places. The GFCI monitors the flow of electric current. If an
imbalance in the flow occurs, the GFCI will stop the current to avoid danger.
Building codes require that GFCIs be installed in the bathrooms, kitchen and
garage of new homes, as well as on some of the basement and outdoor outlets. If
your home is not equipped with GFCI outlets it would be a good safety precaution
to have them installed by a licensed electrician.
Another electrical fire precaution is to keep anything that could burn (e.g.
curtains) away from light bulbs, heaters, portable heaters or toasters. If
you’ve ever touched a hot light bulb, you know how hot it can get; up to 300
degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off heating and cooking appliances before leaving home.
Don’t overload outlets. If you must use an extension cord temporarily, match
the amperage or wattage limits marked on the cord with your appliance. Don’t use
cords that are frayed or have cracked insulation or damaged plugs. Extension
cords can be a big help, but if not used properly they can lead to fires.
Holiday time is a happy time. It is also a good time to practice good
electrical safety. Check each holiday light string before using it. If you find
a frayed cord or damaged plug or light socket, discard the string. Use the
correct lights for the job. Don’t use outdoor lights indoors; they usually burn
hotter than indoor lights. Also, do not use indoor lights outdoors because they
may not be waterproof. Avoid overloading electrical circuits and connect lights
to power strips with a built-in circuit breaker that has several outlets. Remind
children never to touch lights or plugs with wet hands. Remember to unplug
indoor lights when going to bed.
Electricity waits to leap into action at the flick of a switch.
Think Safe. Live Safe.