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Electricity at home:  Identify hazards

Jeff Koeppel, K&B Electric LLC   7:01 a.m.  CDT October 16, 2015


The leading cause of residential fires in the U.S. each year is electrical failure and malfunction.

Electrical fires are extremely dangerous; not only can they cause burns, but they can also lead to electrical shock. Plus, it’s common for such fires to spread beyond the object where the fire started.

To prevent possible electrical fires in

your home, some basics can be a powerful weapon against potential hazards.

The most common causes of electrical fires are short circuits in wiring, overloaded conductors, cables or equipment, poor or loose connections, built-up static electricity, use of inferior-grade materials or equipment, the frequent blowing of fuses, and the presence of flammable materials near electrical heat sources.

With that in mind, here are some dos and don’ts:

 Check that every light bulb in every fixture is the correct wattage to avoid overheating.
 Keep combustible materials away from electrical items and outlets.
 Remove any nails or wire staples used to tack down cords.
 Check electrical rating on appliances/electronics to avoid overloading circuits (cords, plugs and outlets will feel warm to the touch).
 Position appliances/electronics on a level surface and in a way that air can circulate around them.
 Place all electrical equipment in a dry location, away from any water source including rain, leaks, spills and/or splashes.
 Cover all unused outlets with child protective covers.
 Make sure all light switches and outlets are covered by faceplates.
 Unplug all kitchen and bathroom countertop appliances when not in use and keep well enough away from sinks.
 Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop, stay in the home when cooking/baking, and keep young children three feet away from hot stoves.
 Periodically check the circuit breaker box to ensure no breakers have become stuck and that they work properly, or that correct size fuses are used in the fuse box
 Make sure all outlets that might have any type of contact with water (directly or indirectly) are ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
 Make sure each outdoor outlet has its own weatherproof cover; “While in Use Weatherproof Covers” are moisture resistant.

 Don’t use an appliance/electronic that has a frayed, cracked or damaged electrical cord.
 Don’t put electrical cords where they could be stepped on, including under a rug.
 Don’t wrap cords tightly around a lamp post or other object.
 Don’t use an extension cord on a permanent basis — additional outlets should be installed or appliances moved.
 Don’t use an outlet if an electrical plug doesn’t fit in snug and secure.
 Don’t use a corded electric power tool around wet areas, including swimming pools.
 Don’t ignore the warning signs: outlets or switches that feel warm, fuses that blow frequently, circuits that trip and lights that flicker or dim.

Lastly, using water in an attempt to contain or extinguish an electrical fire can result in the flames getting bigger or lead to electrocution. Class C fire extinguishers are designed for use on fires caused by electrical equipment. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is nonconductive.

Jeff Koeppel is managing partner of K & B Electric LLC, an electrical contractor and lighting contractor.  Contact him at (920) 655-3676 or service@kbelectriccompany.com or go to www.kbelectriccompany.com.

 Source: Green Bay Press Gazette

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