May Is Electrical Safety Month–Be Prepared
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 13 percent of residential fires are due to the neglect of electric safety measures. Many of these are due to outdated appliances or safety devices, and most of them are preventable. Below is a brief explanation of electrical safety devices and how they protect the home.
Residential Safety Devices
Many homes have various safety devices which protect from fire and electrocution. Though these can vary depending on the type of home and the homeowner, one can find three primary devices in most homes.
- Fuse: Fuses protect the electrical circuits from too much of an electric current. The current flows through the circuit until it exceeds the maximum level of power. When it becomes too much, the fuse “blows,” severing the connection and turning off the electric current.
- Circuit Breakers: Circuit breakers are very similar to fuses. They protect circuits from being overloaded by electric currents, but they can do it more than once. While fuses need to be replaced every time they blow, circuit breakers can activate multiple times, making them more cost-efficient. Most professionals consider them to be safer as well.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters: These devices detect problems in currents that move in and out of the circuit to prevent electrocution. They are standard to nearly every home and are even mandatory in most states. Ground fault circuit interrupters are found anywhere water might cross paths with an electric current, such as a bathroom or kitchen.
See the Signs of Overload
- Flickering, blinking, or dimming lights
- Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
- Scorched wall plates with a burnt odor
- Mild shock from appliances, outlets, or switches
These warning signs can be frightening to homeowners who may not know how to prevent overloads themselves. But several simple things can reduce the danger:
- Don’t use extension cords for appliances. Power strips or extension cords do not change the amount of power being received to the outlet. Instead, the power is simply divided between the outlets from the power strip. Appliances don’t get as much power as if one plugged them straight into a wall, which can cause strain.
- Reduce lighting loads by replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient LED options.
- Install new circuits for devices that require more power within the home.
Surge Protection Is Essential
Many homeowners do not know that surge protectors and power strips are different. Most power strips are just an expansion of the wall outlet, as mentioned above. They typically have a circuit breaker but will not offer any more protection than the standard wall outlet. Surge protectors may be able to handle one large surge or several small ones.
Some surge protectors may even offer a warranty on the appliances connected to it. However, these devices do not last forever. Over time, surge protectors will wear out, and their protection drops below a safe level, so it is important to be aware of their lifespan.
About Edison Electric, Inc.
Edison Electric, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN is an owner-operated electric service company dedicated to providing for their community. Their experienced technicians provide upfront pricing and personal solutions to every job. Call them for electrical services today!