Electrical Safety Tips for Spring

Electrical Safety Tips for Spring - Brubaker Inc.

With spring and shelter-in-place upon us, there’s a lot more time for working and playing around the house. And that means more opportunities for electrical accidents, such as coming into contact with a live wire, overloaded circuits, and electrical fires. Foster safe and responsible habits at home by going over these electrical safety tips for spring.

May Is Electrical Safety Month!

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of electricity. It gives us the power of air conditioning, computers, the internet, and illumination. All things we desperately need right now. But while the world has greatly benefited from this vital energy source, there are many risks associated with its use. It’s up to all of us to make sure that electricity doesn’t pose a danger to our homes and workplaces.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, local fire departments respond to about 45,000 home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction every year. Half of home electrical fires involve electrical distribution, lighting, and power transfer equipment, “followed by cooking equipment (15%), heating equipment (9%), fans (6%), air conditioners (3%), and clothes dryers (3%).”

Electrical safety starts with education. Go over these electrical safety tips so you can create an injury-free electrical environment for you and your household. Learn more about Electrical Safety Month.

Top 3 Electrical Safety Tips for Spring

Regular DIY electrical safety maintenance can mean the difference between life and death. Here are the top three electrical safety tips to follow:

  • Schedule a yearly electrical safety inspection from a qualified electrician.
  • Test all smoke alarms and CO detectors once a month. Change batteries at least once a year and replace them every 10 years.
  • Test all GFCIs and AFCIs once a month.

General Electrical Safety Tips for Spring

  • Protect your home and expensive electrical devices from dangerous and costly electrical surges and spikes with plug-in and whole-home surge protection.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors outside of every sleeping area and in your basement, garage, and attic.
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month and replace batteries at least once a year.
  • Beware of using ladders anywhere near wiring systems and power lines. It’s highly recommended that you have a partner spot you if you plan on using a ladder.
  • Always unplug outdoor appliances and tools when not in use and make sure that your outlet covers are secured properly.
  • Inspect all cords, wires, surge protectors, appliances, electric tools, and other electrical devices for cracks, breaks, frays, and other damage. Replace all damaged electrical items immediately.
  • Never run cords or electrical equipment where people walk or could otherwise interfere. Don’t staple cords to walls and never run cords underneath rugs, furniture, or anything else. 
  • Always use certified electrical products and learn about counterfeit electrical products, which appear to be on the rise. Look for the UL certification label. Follow all manufacturer instructions before operating electrical equipment.
  • If you find any damaged electrical appliances or equipment, have them repaired immediately. Besides visual inspections, another sign of a damaged electrical circuit is if the breakers keep tripping. You may not have the power necessary to handle your electrical load. Call your local, professional electrician to troubleshoot all electrical problems.
  • Create a fire escape plan and practice it with your family every 6 months. Here is a good fire escape plan from the NFPA you can use.
  • Check to see if all of your outdoor outlets are GFCI-protected (ground fault circuit interrupters).
  • Have a professional electrician conduct a whole-home electrical safety inspection every year for maximum comfort and safety. Contact Brubaker Inc. to make sure your electrical system is in excellent condition all year round.

How to Test a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

We all know that electricity + water = DANGER, but many of us don’t have the proper protection against this dangerous combination. Inspect all of your outdoor, bathroom, kitchen, garage, and basement outlets for working GFCI protection. A GFCI outlet has a test and reset button. Outdoor outlets should also have some kind of weatherproof box/cover.

It’s a good idea to test your GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) outlets and breakers once a month. GFCI outlets, much like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, eventually wear out after about 10 years.

  • You can test your GFCI outlet by first pressing the “RESET” button.
  • Then, plug something in like a lamp and turn it on.
  • Now, press the “TEST” button. Pressing the “test” button should have turned the power off.
  • To complete the test, push the “reset” button again — the power should have been turned back on.

GFCI outlets should be installed in all bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor outlets, and any other area where there is a risk of wetness or moisture.

How to Test an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter

In addition to GFCI outlets, you should also make sure that all of your circuits are outfitted with arc fault circuit protection (AFCIs). AFCI protection can be located inside the service panel itself or inside your electrical outlets. Either way, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires all new circuits and homes to have arc fault circuit breakers installed.

Test you AFCI breakers once a month:

  1. Locate your electrical service panel.
  2. Make sure the breaker is on and press the AFCI “TEST” button. 
  3. This should cause the AFCI breaker to trip. That means it is working. To turn it back on, turn the switch all the way OFF and then back ON again.
  4. If the AFCI does not trip, contact a qualified electrician.

Watch this video from the Electrical Safety Foundation International for more information on AFCIs:

Outdoor DIY, Power Tool, and Power Line Safety

Spring and summer are ideal seasons for outdoor barbecues and home improvement projects. But before you start digging, cutting, blasting, and fastening, take some time to review these outdoor electrical safety tips. 

Call 811 Before You Dig!

Wires and plumbing are sometimes located underneath the ground. Before you begin any kind of digging project, call 811, the national number to get your underground utility lines marked. One simple call and you will know the approximate location of all your underground lines, pipes, and cables. This free call will prevent damage to your person and property, fines and expensive repairs. Visit call811.com for more information.

Call at least 3 days before your digging project.

Power Tool Safety Tips

  • Make sure your power tool is plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
  • Never use power tools near electrical wires or gas/plumbing pipes.
  • Be extra careful when cutting or drilling through walls to avoid puncturing or touching wires and pipes.
  • If a tool appears damaged or keeps tripping the breaker, discontinue use and contact the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
  • Follow all manufacturer instructions and wear the appropriate protective gear.

Power Line Safety Tips

Be extra careful working around power lines. When using ladders, scaffolds, and other metal equipment, stay clear of all power lines.

Never attempt to clear trees and other plants from power lines yourself. Your local electrical company is responsible for ensuring there is enough clearance for power line safety. If you see trees and other objects making contact with a power line, contact your local electrical company.

If you see a downed power line anywhere, stay far away (at least 40 feet) and call 911 immediately. Downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet away.

Kites and Power Lines

Electrical Safety Tips | Kites and Power LinesIf a kite gets stuck in a power line, electricity can travel through the string and electrocute the person holding it on its way to the ground.

  • Fly kites in open areas and away from trees, roads, power lines, and electrical poles.
  • Only fly kites in the daytime. 
  • If a kite gets caught in a tree, make sure there is not a power line nearby before climbing it.
  • If a kite gets caught in a power line, release the string immediately. Do not try to get the kite down or climb the utility pole. Contact the local utility company to report the incident.

Electrical Safety Around Pools and Spas

  • All electrical devices should be at least 10 feet from any moisture sources, such as your pool and sprinklers.
  • All outdoor outlets should have a weatherproof cover, especially around a pool or hot tub.
  • Test outdoor GFCI outlets every month.
  • All electrical equipment used for swimming pools should be grounded.
  • Keep electrical cords and devices at least 10 feet away from all water sources. If possible, use battery-operated devices.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment while you are wet.
  • Never swim during a thunderstorm.
  • Have a certified electrician inspect your pool, spa, or hot tub once a year in accordance with the National Electrical Code.

Schedule Professional Electrical Safety Inspection

Having a professional electrician thoroughly inspect your home’s electrical system is the best way to ensure both safety and energy efficiency. Your licensed electrician will make sure that your home meets the safety provisions set forth by the National Electrical Code and any local codes. A careful examination of the entire system will give you a clear picture of its current condition and highlight areas that can be improved.

We recommend scheduling a professional electrical safety inspection once a year. Your electrician will be able to inspect every aspect of your electrical system to ensure reliable, trouble-free electricity for many years to come.

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