How can you safeguard your home against winter electrical hazards?
Cold temperatures tend to increase electrical usage. As a result, winters can be more dangerous when it comes to electrical hazards. Here’s how to keep you and your family safe this winter.
Conduct a Safety Inspection
Winter time is the perfect time to conduct an electrical safety inspection. Are the fuse boxes or electrical panels out to date? If your home is older, check to see if they need to be replaced. While they may not seem worn out, electrical panels need to be replaced about every 20-30 years. Ice, snow, and dangerous tree branches can interfere with the power supply so make sure outside lighting is kept clear. Make sure you’re prepared for power outages by knowing where to find the fuse box and keeping flashlights handy. Perform preventative maintenance on furnaces so avoid the use of portable heaters that can be dangerous when used incorrectly. Consider also how to properly store summer appliances, change out bad outlets, check for broken cords or overloaded outlets, and the placement of certain appliances.
Bad Outlets & Broken Cords
Loose, discolored, or smoking outlets are a sign that they’ve gone bad. Bad outlets can pose a fire risk. Electrical cords that are frayed or poorly insulated can also be hazardous as they can cause electrocution, fires, or other injuries. Check string lights and plug-in decorations before use. Sometimes pests or improper storage can destroy lighting that has been stored away for most of the year.
Proper Placement of Electrical Appliances
If you must use space heaters, they should be dust-free because dusty heaters can cause a fire. It’s also best practice to place these portable heaters in open spaces to prevent overheating. Firefighters also recommend placing them on tiles or hardwood floors as opposed to carpets. Light bulbs should also be kept away from plastics, upholstery, curtains, bedding, and other flammable materials. It’s best practice to never leave any electrical appliances unattended when plugged in. When replacing light bulbs, make sure to turn off the light and unplug the appliance. Make sure to use the right wattage to avoid overheating that could lead to a fire. Electric blankets should be checked for damage and turned off when not in use to avoid accidental damage.
With more electrical appliances in use during the winter it’s important to make sure that outlets are not being overloaded. Too many electrical appliances plugged into a circuit can trip breakers which could cause power loss. While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, overloading electrical outlets can start a fire. It’s best practice to plug in appliances directly into the wall socket and avoid using extension cords. If you find yourself running out of outlets or tripping breakers often, it’s time for an upgrade. Make sure to ask the electrician conducting the upgrade to install surge protectors, as these can help avoid damage during power spikes.
Make sure generators run in a well-ventilated space outside your home. Do not connect a standby generator to the home electrical system. When using a portable generator, only plug appliances directly into the generator’s outlet. Lastly, generators should be started before plugging in appliances.
For professional inspections, outlet replacements, and electrical upgrades, contact New England Electrical today. We’re here to keep your family happy and safe year-round!