04 May Sizzling Spring & Summer Electrical Tips
Electricity powers our homes. In particular, during the spring and summer months, as the heat rises, our homes require more electricity to cool them down. However, electricity is dangerous and accounts for many home injuries, so some electrical tips to keep your family safe are important to note.
In fact, according to the ESFI, the recent home injury statistics are startling.
- 33,500 injuries were reported to hospital emergency rooms as involving air conditioners, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and heat pumps.
- 7,400 reported home structure fires due to air conditioning or related equipment with losses of $200 million in property damage.
- 7,000 reported home structure fires per year involving air conditioning and related equipment included 2,400 per year involving central and room air conditioners specifically and 3,700 per year involving fans.
As a result of the annual injuries, ESFI recommends homeowners contact a qualified, licensed electrician to perform any electrical work in your home, including the installation and services of air conditioning and other cooling equipment.
To help, here are some simple safety steps to protect you and your family.
Standard Summer Electrical Tips
Simple smarts and common sense are the biggest ways to prevent home injuries. In the summer, that means that water and electricity do not mix. Here are some electrical tips to reinforce summer safety.
In general, never handle electrical items when you are wet, along with keeping electrical toys or appliances away from water.
- Make sure the electrical connections to your pools and hot tubs are fully grounded.
- Use water resistant outlet covers on all outdoor receptacles near swimming pools and use GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) protection for all pool power outlets.
- When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for grounding.
- Never plug in any appliance if you notice that the cord is frayed or damaged in anyway.
In the event of an emergency, know where your circuit breakers are and how to safely turn them off.
Swimming Pool Safety
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, electrical hazards in and around swimming pools were to blame for 60 deaths and nearly 50 serious shocks over the past 13 years.
To help, the CPSC, along with the American Red Cross, compiled some electrical safety tips for preventing backyard fires, or any other potentially dangerous or life-threatening electrical situations that may occur.
Before the warm weather arrives, have an electrician inspect the pool, spa or hot tub. Make sure all the equipment is in accordance with both the local codes and the National Electrical Code. Follow up with any necessary upgrades or repairs.
According to the NEC, all electrical wires and junction boxes need to be at least five feet away from the water. It is also important to know where all electrical switches and circuit breakers are located in case of an emergency.
- Battery-operated devices.
The CPSC recommends you use battery-operated devices around water instead of cord-connected devices.
- Emergency plan.
Have a detailed emergency plan posted around the pool, spa or hot tub area. This plan should outline the necessary course of action you should take if someone is suffering from an electric shock.
Summer Electrical Safety Checklist
Frank Clark, president of ComEd, shares some electrical tips because:
“It is important that parents make electrical safety a priority for summer, especially as kids begin a three-month journey of newfound freedom. We encourage parents to sit down with their kids and visit www.comedsafety.com for electric safety lessons taught through fun, interactive games as well as review our safety basics checklist with everyone in their family.”
That safety basics checklist includes:
- Be aware of power lines around you and always assume that wires are “live and dangerous.”
- Never touch an outdoor wire with any part of your body, toys or other objects.
- Do not climb trees that are too close to power lines; even if the tree isn’t touching a line, the extra weight from someone climbing the tree could cause a branch to touch the line, which would be dangerous.
- Fly kites and model airplanes and other toys in large open areas such as a field or a park – safely away from trees and overhead power lines.
- Do not go into an electric substation for any reason – even on a dare. Electric substations contain high-voltage equipment, which can kill you. Also, never attempt to rescue a pet that goes inside. Instead, call your local utility company.
- Do not use electrical devices (such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches) that have been submerged.
An important safety note is remember that electrical equipment is dangerous, so do not try to rescue a family member, friend or pet that has come into contact with an electrical accident. Call 911 immediately.
Backyard Electrical Tips
In the spring and summer, we rely on our backyards for fun and entertainment. During these seasons, we spend many weekends barbecuing, enjoying a backyard swim, along with doing yard work, home maintenance, landscaping and other projects outdoors.
However, regardless of your weekend swimming or planting, always remember that you are surrounded by electricity and that outdoor electrical safety shouldn’t be overlooked. To help, here are some electrical safety precautions to consider when you and your family are in the backyard.
- The CPSC recommends an annual check of outdoor electrical equipment.
- Check each outlet has its own weatherproof outlet cover, and keep it closed when not in use.
- Avoid using corded power tools in wet or damp locations.
- Only use extension cords that are rated for outdoor use because indoor cords can’t withstand the weather conditions when they’re used outdoors.
- Watch out for power lines while using a ladder or pole to make sure it won’t come within 10 feet of a power line.
- Do not climb with tools in your hands, and be sure to wear safety equipment at all times.
- Do not trim trees in dangerous weather conditions.
- Do not allow power cord connections to become wet. Outdoors, dangers such as power lines in contact with water can pose electrical hazards. Indoors, submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, a potential lethal trap. Before flipping a switch or plugging in an appliance, have an electrician check the house wiring and appliance to make sure it is safe to use.
Good electrical safety habits can help you to make sure your family, friends and neighbors are safe and free to enjoy a little outdoors time in your backyard this season.
For any questions or concerns about your home, then contact a trusted electrician to review your home and make any suggestions to improve your home electrical standards.