Protect your family from fire and other electrical hazards by using this short checklist, reprinted with permission from the Electrical Safety Foundation International. These simple and easy steps will help you to identify and correct electrical dangers commonly found in homes.
1. CHECK THE WATTAGE OF ALL BULBS IN YOUR LIGHTS.
• Are the bulbs the appropriate wattage for the size of the fixtures? A bulb of too-high wattage may lead to fire through overheating.
2. CHECK ALL LAMP CORDS AND EXTENSION CORDS.
• Are cords placed out of the walking areas and free of furniture resting on them? Tripping hazards may result. Also, stepping on cords or placing furniture on them can cause damage and create a fire hazard.
• Are cords in good condition (not damaged or cracked)? Shock or fire hazards can result from damaged cords.
• Do not attempt to repair cords yourself. Take any item with a damaged power cord to an authorized repair center or safely dispose of the item and purchase a new one.
• Are cords unwrapped? Tightly wrapped cords can lead to overheating.
• Are all extension cords being used only on a temporary basis? Extension cords are not as safe as permanent house wiring. Have receptacles installed where they are needed.
3. CHECK ALL WALL OUTLETS AND SWITCHES.
• Are all outlets and switches working properly? Improperly operating outlets or switches indicate that an unsafe wiring condition may exist.
• Are all outlets and switches cool to the touch? Unusually warm outlets or switches may indicate an unsafe wiring condition exists.
• Do you hear crackling, sizzling, or buzzing from your outlets? Call a licensed electrician to identify the cause.
• Are all outlet and switch cover plates in good condition? Replace any missing, cracked or broken cover plate.
1. CHECK ALL COUNTERTOP APPLIANCES
• Are all appliance cords placed away from hot surfaces? Pay particular attention to cords around toasters, ovens and ranges. Cords can be damaged by excess heat.
• Are all appliances located away from the sink? Electrical appliances can cause a shock if they encounter water. Plug kitchen appliances into GFCI protected outlets.
• Do appliance cords hang off the counter or tabletops? These cords are likely to catch on people passing by.
2. CHECK ALL LARGE APPLIANCES
• Have you ever received even a slight shock (other than one from static electricity) from any of these appliances? Do not touch the appliance until it has been checked by an electrician.
• Is the top and area above the cooking range free of combustibles (for example, potholders, plastic utensils)? Using range for storage of non-cooking equipment may result in fires or burns.
• Is there excessive vibration or movement when the washer or dryer is operating? Movement during operation can put undue stress on electrical connections.
1. CHECK FOR TAMPER RESISTANT OUTLETS
2. CHECK PORTABLE HEATERS
• Is it placed away from things that can catch fire such as drapes and newspapers? Relocate heaters away from passageways and keep all flammable materials such as curtains, rugs, furniture or newspaper at least three feet away.
• Is the equipment stable and placed where it will not be tipped over? Fire hazard can result if a heater is tipped over. Animals and even blowing drapes can be factors.
3. CHECK FOR THE PRESENCE AND PROPER PLACEMENT OF SMOKE ALARMS AND TEST EACH ONE.
• Smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
1. CHECK FOR GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS (GFCIS)
• Are the bathroom outlets protected by GFCIs? GFCIs should be installed in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas where the risk of electric shock is high.
• If you have any GFCIs, do you test them regularly? GFCIs must be operating properly to protect against electrocution.
2. CHECK SMALL ELECTRICAL PRODUCTS SUCH AS HAIR DRYERS AND CURLING IRONS
• Are they plugged in when not in use? Plugged-in electrical appliances (even when switched off) may result in an electrocution hazard if they fall into water.
• Are they in good condition? Pay particular attention to erratic operation and damaged wiring or other parts.
BASEMENTS & GARAGES
1. CHECK YOUR BREAKER BOX
• Is your fuse box or circuit breaker box appropriately labeled? Labeling helps to easily identify what circuits power each room in your home.
• Does everyone of appropriate age know where the fuse box or circuit breaker box is located and how to turn off and restore power to the home?
• Are you regularly resetting tripped circuit breakers? Circuit breakers that are constantly tripping indicate that the circuit is overloaded or that other electrical hazards exist. Consult a qualified, licensed electrician.
• Is your home protected by Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)? AFCIs are devices that replace standard circuit breakers in the electrical service panel and that greatly reduce the risk of home electrical fires. If you are interested in having AFCI protection added to your home, consult a qualified, licensed electrician.