We usually don’t give our outlets much thought, but they are one of the most used pieces of electrical equipment in a home. Over the course of a day you’ve most likely used an outlet at least once, if not more. You may not realize, however, that electrical outlets are a common spot for electrical hazards.
Using an unsafe outlet can result in painful or deadly accidents. Electrocutions can cause pain, respiratory arrest, severe burns and nerve damage. Shorts and surges can do property damage as well, potentially causing fires or ruining appliances.
Read on to learn how to spot these problems and solve them before a tragedy occurs.
Problem: You find yourself grabbing your child to keep them from sticking a coin they found into your outlet. Children are often tempted to play with outlets, wanting to put their fingers or other objects into the socket. This can cause serious electrical shock, which can be especially dangerous for children. Even if children don’t live in your home, a visiting niece or friend’s child could still harm themselves in little time.
Solution: The easiest and cheapest option is to use electrical outlet caps. These pieces of plastic go into the outlet and prevent a child from getting to the source of the electricity as they are almost impossible for a child to remove. However, they can be difficult for an adult to remove as well. You might try a plate cover for your outlet instead, which slides over to cover the outlets when not in use. They are equally as safe with a minimal amount of extra effort needed to stay safe.
Problem: You love your new house, but the outlets are placed so inconveniently that you have to plug your TV, phone charger, DVD player, laptop charger, candle warmer and lamp all into the same cheap power strip. Overloading your outlets can be extremely dangerous and can cause a fire if there is a short. Not to mention, a power strip will not protect your appliances in the case of a surge, which can ruin all of your electronics.
Solution: Get some surge protectors for your home. If a surge protector overloads, it simply trips a breaker and reduces the chance of a fire. This also helps save your appliances should a surge occur. You may also consider getting a whole home surge protector installed by an electrician to further protect your electronics.
Problem: A poorly placed glass of water has spilled over your outlet and your phone charger. Though you may want to remove the charger to prevent damage, doing so can put you at risk of electric shock. Waiting to unplug the device may cause a short or damage your device, so speed is of the essence.
Solution: To unplug a device from a wet outlet, you should turn off the electricity from the main breaker before unplugging, otherwise you may be shocked. For a more permanent solution, install a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in areas of your home where outlets may become wet, like bathrooms, living rooms or kitchens. If a GFCI senses that the outlet has become wet or overloads it will stop the flow of electricity to prevent a shock before it happens.
Problem: Plugging in your hair dryer has become a challenge with the outlet wiggling around every time you try. Not only is this a nuisance when you’re getting ready, it can cause a fire if the connection between your plug and outlet are ineffective.
Solution: There are several at-home options you may try, including installing a shim to fix the outlet or installing a new outlet entirely. If loose outlets are a problem throughout your home, or if you have no experience with electrical outlets, you can call an electrician to help restore your outlets back to normal.
If you need help removing electrical hazards from your home, contact Complete Electrical.
Our expert team of electricians are trained to spot hazards and will restore your home to safety.