Have you ever felt the painful sensation of static shock when picking up clothes or touching a door knob?
While electricity adds a lot of convenience to our daily lives, it can also pose a serious danger to our lives.
You’ve probably come across dozens of stories in your life where someone got hurt as a result of a house fire, electric shock, burn, or other accident that was caused by some type of electricity hazard.
Unfortunately, you can’t experience all the benefits of electricity without risking running into one of the many different kinds of electrical hazards. However, if you familiarize yourself with the right warning signs of a given electrical hazard, you can stay out of harm’s way by preventing a hazard from turning into a disaster.
What are Electrical Hazards?
The simplest way to define an “electrical hazard” is as any type of hazard in your home or office that is directly caused by electricity. As the name suggests, this includes any dangerous situation where there’s a chance that you might get hurt as a result of coming into contact with electricity.
What does that look like? Here’s 9 of the most common examples of electrical hazards you’ll run into in your home and how you can prevent each electrical hazard from happening:
Faulty Wiring & Electrical Malfunction
Faulty wiring is one of the biggest causes for house fires you come across in the news. Recent statistics show that over 78% of all house fires are due to electrical malfunctioning caused by faulty wiring.
The best way to prevent your own house from catching fire is to get your home’s electrical system checked by a licensed electrician. Hiring a professional with the right expertise can help you to see if there’s anything wrong with your wiring system and take care of any serious electrical hazards.
Inadequate Electrical Grounding
Sometimes, there may be nothing wrong with the wiring system in your house; it’s below your house where the problem may lie.
Simply put, if your home’s electrical system isn’t properly grounded, you run the risk of overloading the electricity in your house. A buildup of excess electrical energy in your home with nowhere to go can result in a variety of “shocking” accidents, from fried electronics to a complete house fire.
As with faulty wiring, the easiest way to prevent electrical damage to your home as a result of poor grounding is to have a certified technician assess your grounding system. This should be done as part of a routine evaluation of your house’s entire electrical wiring.
Using Electronic Appliances with Wet Hands
One of the surest ways to cause an electrical accident is to handle anything that’s plugged into an outlet with wet hands. Your body is already able to conduct electricity on its own, and adding water to the mix only makes it easier for you to get shocked while touching wires and plugged-in appliances.
How do you prevent this type of electrical hazard? Make sure your hands are dry at all times when using devices that are connected to an outlet.
If you want to take it a step further, you can also have residual current devices (RCD) installed in your outlets, which will cut off the electricity to an outlet whenever it senses a shock. While this may not completely prevent an electrical injury from happening if someone has wet hands, it will certainly help to minimize the extent of the electric shock.
Pouring Water in Electrical Fire
In the event of a fire, your natural instinct may be to throw water on it to put it out. However, when a fire breaks out as a result of an electrical surge, adding water, which is a strong conductor of electricity, will only make things worse, and could even cause you to get electrocuted.
As a result, the safest way to put out an electrical fire is with a fire extinguisher, which will not help the electrical current to spread. Should you find yourself without a fire extinguisher, try your best to turn off the power supply in your home and contact your local firefighters to help put out the fire. No matter the circumstance, always make sure to use caution in dealing with a fire resulting from electrical hazards.
Unprotected Electrical Wall Outlets
If your house has electrical outlets that are not protected by some sort of RCD, you run the risk of accidentally shocking yourself whenever you plug something in. This is especially dangerous if you have children, who are known to let their curiosity get the best of them and play around with things that could severely hurt them.
There are several ways to prevent anyone from being able to get electrocuted from a wall outlet. However, the most secure way to keep everyone safe is to install safety wall plates on all your electrical outlets. These plates are designed to close shut whenever a plug is removed, making sure that nothing can come into contact with the electrical sockets.
Improper Use of Extension Cords
Using extension cords to power more appliances can lead to an electrical overload if used improperly. In some cases, this could result in an electrical fire in your home.
There a several things you should avoid doing when using extension cords in order to prevent a serious electrical hazard:
- Don’t connect one extension cord to another
- Don’t exceed the rating of your cord
- Don’t allow extension cords to trip people over
- Don’t use extension cords to connect wires in the attic or ceilings.
The best way to prevent electrical hazards caused by extension cords is to completely do away with them whenever possible. Instead, hire an electrician to help you install more power outlets in your house if possible.
Broken or Defective Appliances
Sometimes, one of your appliances may have its own issues with its electrical system, which could possibly result in an electrical overload of your house’s power system as well as the appliance’s. Either way, this could pose a major electrical hazard and potentially hurt someone if not dealt with.
If you notice that your appliance is not working properly due to electrical problems, the safest thing to do is to dispose of the problematic appliance or device immediately and replace it with a new model. While it may be a bit expensive to replace certain devices or appliances, it’s also an investment in your personal safety as well as the value of your property.
Electric Outlet Near Water Sources
Similar to why you should never handle plugged-in devices with wet hands, you want to avoid using electrical outlets that are next to water sources. This is most often a danger of having outlets that are dangerously close to baths or kitchen sinks.
If at all possible, opt to get rid of any outlets that are located near a water source, or at least have the power to them cut off so that no one risks getting hurt by accidentally coming into contact with them.
Overheating Light Bulbs
Whenever installing new light bulbs, always make sure to use a bulb with a wattage that matches that of the lamp. Using light bulbs rated to higher wattages than what the lamp draws can result in an overheated lamp that breaks out into an electrical fire.
You can take controlled measures to prevent any electrical hazards from happening as a result of an overheated lamp by double-checking that the light bulb installed in all your lamps either meet or are below the maximum wattage of your lamp.
It’s important to be aware of how and when electricity can become a potential hazard, and what you should do to prevent any injuries from happening as a result of electrical issues. In addition to keeping an eye out for all warning signs and appliances with electrical hazard symbols, the easiest way to keep your home safe is to have a licensed electrician come to inspect your home for any signs of electrical hazards.