While we all enjoy using the electrical energy that is delivered to our homes and which powers our lights, appliances, radios, televisions, computers and video games, we usually don't give it much thought unless it stops working. Unfortunately, as convenient as electricity is, it can also be deadly when things go awry. There are several steps you can take in your home to reduce the chances of experiencing an electrical emergency or accident.
1. Cords, Cables and Leads
Every electrical appliance has a cord, cable or lead that attaches it to a socket in the wall and allows it to receive the electricity that powers it. When a cord becomes worn or frayed, however, a convenience can suddenly become deadly. As electrical appliances age, the plastic that covers the cord can harden and crack. Kinks in the cord may weaken the covering and expose live wires that can cause shock and electrocution.
Check the cords of all of your electrical units on a regular basis, taking note of their condition and replacing cords or appliances that have dodgy cords, cables and leads. Jiggle the cords of televisions, lights, radios and other units while they're on to see if there are any loose wires that cause a momentary power cut to the unit. If you notice an interruption in power, unplug the appliance and replace it or get it serviced by a qualified professional before plugging it in and using it again.
2. Electrical Plugs
Never tug on a cord to remove the plug of electrical equipment from the wall. Doing so can damage delicate interior wiring and cause a short that can lead to fires or electrical shocks. Always grasp the plug of the cord firmly and remove it gently from the outlet in one swift move. Never allow your fingers to come into contact with the prongs of the equipment as you remove the plug from the wall. If you have small children, plug and unplug electrical equipment for them instead of allowing them to do it themselves.
While it can be hard to find enough electrical sockets to plug all of your equipment and appliances into, particularly in older homes that contain fewer outlets, never overload an outlet with too many plugs. Take care when using an extension cord with multiple outlets. Just because the outlets exist, it doesn't mean that the original socket is equipped to handle to power load you may require of it. Overloading a socket can cause a short or a fire.
3. Lamps and Light Bulbs
Another potential source of electrical accidents and emergencies occurs from the improper use of lamps and light bulbs. Always use a light bulb of the recommended wattage in every lamp. Check your existing lamps to ensure that no one has inadvertently inserted a bulb of a higher wattage than what is recommended. Lamps are designed to contain bulbs of a specific wattage. While they can work correctly with a bulb of a lower wattage, you should never use one that's higher. Check the lamp's label to determine the correct wattage for the bulb.
4. Water and Electricity
One of the most important aspects of electricity usage is to ensure that you never allow water and electricity to come into contact with one another. Doing so is potentially deadly. Never place an electric radio on the side of the sink while doing dishes. Don't use an electric razor to shave while you bathe. Don't open windows near a television set while it's raining outside. Always create a wide divide between electrical equipment and water.
5. Risky Repairs
Before servicing any electrical appliance, ensure that it's turned off and disconnected from the source of electricity. While it might seem natural to you to try to pry out a DVD that's become stuck in the player while it's plugged in, you're risking a shock if you come in contact with electricity-conducting parts. Unplug the player and then remove the DVD. The same goes for changing a vacuum cleaner belt. Unplug the unit before you attempt any maintenance or repairs.
Stay Safe, San Antonio...
While electricity makes all of our lives easier, using its power comes with responsibility. By always respecting the electrical power that enters your home, you can use it safely and avoid incurring accidents and emergencies that can cost lives and cause injuries.
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