The Home Safety Council has come up with some guidelines to help you detect, correct and prevent electrical hazards.
- Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in all bathrooms and kitchens. Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) should be used in bedrooms.
- Check GFCI's monthly to ensure they are working correctly. If a GFCI does not disconnect power when tested, contact a professional electrician.
- Use child-safety caps on wall outlets in homes where small children are present.
- Never use worn, frayed or damaged cords or appliances.
- Extension cords should only be used temporarily for supplying power to electrical appliances.
- Always use the correct wattage light bulb.
- Keep all appliances away from water.
- Unplug small electric appliances when not in use.
- Do not run electric cords under rugs or carpets. This can cause overheating.
- Make sure all electric cords are in proper working condition and are not frayed or cut. Never piggy-back extension or cords or power strips.
- Put waterproof covers on all outdoor outlets.
- Use only outdoor-labeled extension cords outside.
- Make sure all outlets and switches are covered with faceplates.
- Use only three-pronged outlets for appliances with three-pronged plugs. Never remove the grounding pin or force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Replace any appliance that overheats, smokes or sparks, or causes electrical shocks.
- Allow space around heat-producing appliances such as TV's, stereo receivers, and computers to prevent them from overheating.
- Keep all potentially combustible items at least three feet away from all heaters.
- Make sure all electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
- Keep children away from heat-producing appliances including space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
The following are warning signs of potential fire hazards:
- Dim and/or flickering lights
- Arcs and sparks
- Sizzles and buzzes
- Overheating-Overheated wires can give off an odor of hot insulation; switch-plates or receptacle covers are hot to the touch or discolored.
- Electrial shocks
If you experience or notice any of these signs, call a professional electrician to inspect and correct the problem.