How to prevent electrocution and electrical fires

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According to the National Safety Council, 600-1,000 people die each year from electrocution. The Electrical Safety Foundation said that electrical fires cause around 400 deaths a year. To prevent electrocution and electrical fires, you should inspect your house, but while you do that, you should make sure you’re taking the right precautions and you should know what to look for.

Before checking any electrical outlet or device, turn off the power. This means going to the breaker and turning off the device and the circuit. Don’t trust that someone else has already done it, do it yourself. After the power is off, double check to make sure it’s off by using a voltage or electrical tester. Sometimes outlets or electrical devices store some electricity and the tester can detect this. If you need to work on your electrical device with the power on, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This will detect imbalances in the amount of electricity flowing through an appliance and it will cut the power off when it hits the GFCI device. Plug your device into the GFCI.

After turning the power off, or setting up your GFCI, go check your devices, outlets, cords, and plugs. If the cords and plugs are worn or frayed, get rid of them. Watch for old or aluminum wiring. When houses were built in the past, aluminum wiring was used, which can be unsafe.  If the wiring is 30 or more years old, you should consider replacing it.  Check outlets and use a surge protector. This helps protect against power surges which can overload the outlet and start a fire.  

The most common mistakes happen when changing a light bulb. When changing a light bulb, make sure the wattage is correct. If the wattage is too high for the appliance, it can catch on fire. Also make sure it is screwed in securely.

Some plug-ins have three prongs and others have two. Three prong plugs are safer than two prong plugs since the third prong grounds the electrical current so it helps in the event of a power surge or a short circuit. Don’t try to take the third prong off the plug-in so it fits into a two prong outlet.

Things to remember to prevent being electrocuted:

  • Don’t touch bare wire
  • Don’t overload power strips
  • Don’t run electrical cords beneath carpet
  • Stay away from wet surfaces when working on electrical devices.

You can expect a safe construction environment from us. Call us at 605-343-6665 to discuss some of our safety measures and how we work to prevent electrical fires and being electrocuted.


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