Here are some simple checks you can make in your home to help ensure your family's safety.
- Bathroom safety - Use extra caution when using appliances near water. Hair dryers, curling irons, electric razors, radios and television sets should be kept away from the sink and tub. If an appliance falls into the water, unplug it first. NEVER reach into water to retrieve an appliance without unplugging it first. During an electrical storm, do not use appliances such as hairdryers or telephones (except in an emergency); and do not take a bath or shower.
- Kitchen safety - Never stick a metal object such as a knife into a toaster to retrieve a piece of toast without unplugging it first. Keep kitchen appliances away from the sink. If a toaster, radio or other appliance does fall into a sink with water in it, unplug the appliance before retrieving it. During an electrical storm, do not use appliances (i.e., toasters and radios) or telephones (except in an emergency).
- Appliances - If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
- Lights - Use light bulbs that are the proper wattage for your light fixtures and lamps. Bulbs which are not proper wattage can overheat causing a fire. Replace light bulbs when they burn out. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat. And never leave an empty socket!
- Halogen floor lamps - Halogen floor lamps operate at much higher temperatures than a standard incandescent light bulb. Never place a halogen floor lamp where it could come in contact with draperies, clothing or other combustible materials. Be sure to turn the lamp off whenever you leave the room for an extended period of time and never use torchiere lamps in children's bedrooms or playrooms.
- Space heaters - Exercise extreme caution when using space heaters. Make sure they are three or four feet away from any flammable object. Keep space heaters at least 3 ft. away from any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs. Don't use in rooms where children are unsupervised and remember to turn off and unplug when not in use. The space heater should have a three-prong grounded plug and be used in a three-hole outlet. Turn off a space heater when your leave the room or go to bed at night. Space Heaters are meant to supply supplemental heat only.
- Electric blankets - Check your blanket for broken or frayed cords. Also, do not tuck an electric blanket in at the sides of the bed as this can break the internal heating coils, potentially causing a fire. It is a good idea to warm the bed with an electric blanket and then turn it off once you are ready to go to sleep. An electric blanket, even on a low setting, can cause burns.
- Outlets - Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. When small children and pets are present in a home, or visit frequently, it is wise to keep outlets covered with plastic covers. These prevent children from accidentally sticking something in the outlet and suffering a shock.
- Plugs - Make sure your plugs fit your outlets. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock. NEVER FORCE A PLUG INTO AN OUTLET IF IT DOESN'T FIT. Plugs should fit securely into outlets. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
- Cords - Make sure cords are in good conditions - not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboard or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
- Extension Cords - Check to see that cords are not overloaded. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring. Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.
- Fuses and Circuit Breakers - Fuses and circuit breakers should be the correct size for the circuit. Always replace fuses with another correct size fuse for the circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) - GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they are working properly.
- Water and Electricity Don't Mix - Don't leave plugged in appliances where they might fall in contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, NEVER reach in to pull it out - even if it's turned off. First turn off the power source at the panel board and then unplug the appliance. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, don't use it until it has been checked by a qualified repair person.
- Entertainment/Computer Equipment - Check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly; look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
- Outdoor Safety - Electric-powered mowers and other tools should not be used in the rain, on wet grass or in wet conditions. Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers before each use for frayed power cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housings. If damaged, stop using it immediately. Repair it or replace it. Always use an extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of your tools. Remember to unplug all portable power tools when not in use. Since metal ladders conduct electricity, watch out for overhead wires and power lines.
Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips
- Install a carbon monoxide detector that sounds an audible alarm near each sleeping area.
- Check all venting systems to the outside to make certain they're free of obstructions.
- Have gas appliances services annually. Better yet, replace them with electric appliances that produce no carbon monoxide.
- Never use barbecue grills indoors.
- Do not run your vehicle in an attached garage with the door closed.
- Seal cracks and other openings in your house foundation. This will limit the flow of radon into your home and reduce the loss of conditioned air.
- Install an air-to-air heat exchanger to increase ventilation.
- Inspect your home each year at the beginning of the heating season.