Safe Choices, Save Lives
Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from powering baby monitors, cell phones and lighting, to running HVAC systems and appliances. No wonder we get so comfortable with its instant availability that we expect most systems or devices to do the job when we flip a switch.
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and here at Crow Wing Power, we think it’s a great time to look around your home and check for potential safety hazards.
Avoid Overloading Outlets
An overloaded outlet is one that has too many items that require electricity plugged into it. With many of us still working and learning from home, we continue using more devices than before. It becomes tempting to plug in too many devices, but this could cause the plugin the wall socket to overheat and possibly cause a fire.
Label Circuit Breakers in Your Home
Take the guesswork out of finding the right breaker when you need to shut the power off. Every permanent electrical device in your house is connected to a circuit that is controlled by a circuit breaker in your breaker box, properly known as the main service panel. When you need to shut off the power to a circuit or reset a tripped breaker, you have to find the right breaker for the circuit. Taking a little time to create a directory (or improve a poorly made one) will pay off with convenience and might help you out in an emergency.
Water and Electricity Don’t Mix
Water conducts electricity, so it's possible to be electrocuted by water that has come in contact with electricity. You can become electricity's path to the ground if you are touching water that touches electricity. Keep appliances and power tools away from water. If an electrical fire breaks out, do not throw water on it as you could be electrocuted.
If you use extension cords regularly to connect devices and equipment to your wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. With a growing number of electrical devices connecting your family to the electricity you get from Crow Wing Power, having enough outlets in just the right spots can be challenging. Remember, it's best to plug extension cords into GFCI outlets and they are designed for temporary, occasional or periodic use.
If an extension cord gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended use. If it shows any signs of frayed, cracked, or heat-damaged insulation, it should be replaced. If the grounding prong is missing, crimped or loose, a grounded cord will not provide the protection designed into its performance. And always make sure that extension cords used outdoors or potentially damp locations are rated for exterior use.
Stay Away From Downed Power Lines
When a live wire touches the ground, electricity fans out through the ground, similar to when a pebble hits water. You could be shocked when in the area of a downed power line. The safe distance from a downed power line is 200 feet. Electricity can travel through the ground, fences, hoses, and playscapes. Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items touching or near a downed wire. Rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes will not protect you from electrocution. And lastly, do not try to rescue someone who makes contact with a downed power line. You risk becoming a victim yourself. Call 9-1-1.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Outdoor outlets or those in potentially damp locations in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room often include GFCI features. They are designed to sense abnormal current flows, breaking the circuit to prevent potential electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets.
The average GFCI outlet is designed to last about 10 years, but in areas prone to electrical storms or power surges, they can wear out in five years or less. Check them frequently by pressing the red test button. Make sure you hit the black reset button when you are done. Contact a licensed electrician to replace any failing GFCI outlets.
Loose or Damaged Outlets or Switches
Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration can offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards. Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these warning signs, it may be time to contact an electrician.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 51,000 electrical fires are reported each year in the United States, causing more than $1.3 billion in annual property damage.
Electricity is an essential necessity for modern living, and Crow Wing Power is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable power to all of our members. We hope you’ll keep these electrical safety tips in mind so that you will notice any potential hazards before damage or injury occurs.