Electrical Safety At Home, Work And School
Learning about electrical safety at home, work and school happens as an ongoing exercise. You do not want your kids to learn from practical experience in the form of an electric shock!
Solar power provides convenient clean residential energy in the form of DC to your bank of batteries and to your inverter to get AC. Both DC and AC forms of power are forms of electricity that have potential to harm or kill during and following an accidental exposure or contact.
You will be hard pressed to find a home today in the US or anywhere in the first world that is not connected to electrical power. We all take advantage of electricity in some form and therefore very few homes have no power connected or uses no electrical appliances.
We usually operate our appliances to make our day to day living easier. Using electrical appliances can save us time and effort. We use them so frequently that we can take our electrical gadgets for granted. And, so often, it's easy to overlook the fact that we need to be careful about their potential to inflict serious harm.
Every member of the household using electricity should be aware of the basic safety principles and tips for electrical safety at home. Follow the same electrical safety tips outlined below when you use electrical appliances, extension cords, light bulbs and any live electrical equipment.
These guidelines apply to electrical safety at home regardless of the origin of your electricity coming from solar panels, a wind turbine, a bank of batteries, a fuel powered generator or the utility’s power grid. Following the rules below can ensure electrical safety in the workplace since the basic safety principles remain the same regardless of the place of using the power.
At the end of this article I have outlined some of the added risks that are present when working on solar panel systems.
Teachers and staff at schools who observe these precautions and follow the electrical safety tips at school will prevent harm. The convenience derived from electrical appliances can quickly become a dangerous hazard without proper care.
Electrical Safety Tips for Appliances
Most households today operate a maze of appliances, each one for a specialist activity, and most of these appliances use AC electrical. Your day starts with breakfast, so maybe using an electric toaster, oven or microwave is part of the routine.
At some time during each week your household activities will probably include using appliances like the dishwasher, clothes washer, vacuum cleaner or hair dryer. These electrical gizmos, gadgets or appliances are intended to make your life simple and easy.
While enjoying the convenience of these appliances we might forget the fact that it is AC electricity we use when operating each one of these tools. Using electricity requires us to be vigilent to the risks and follow electrical safety procedures.
Observe the tips below, and scrutinise the appliance before you use it as doing so can eliminate the risk from a potential fault. An electrical hazard can have a serious adverse impact.
Let’s have a look at some of these electrical safety at home tips for your appliances.
- 1Ensure that the appliance you purchased for use was certified as approved by a reputable consumer testing laboratory.
- 2Read and follow the safety instructions that come with the appliance.
- 3Unplug appliances when they are not in use. Store appliances away carefully with their cords carefully bundled to reduce kinks. Ensure the electrical appliance and its cords are out of reach of both children and pets.
- 4Place heat generating appliances, like televisions and computer monitors, at a safe distance from the wall so that air may circulate around them for their cooling.
- 5Never drape any material (flammable or otherwise) over operating appliances.
- 6Keep combustible items like clothes, toys, curtains, toys away from heaters, radiators, and operating appliances.
- 7Never place electrical appliances close to water sources such as bathtubs, sinks, or pools. Also, be aware of putting them under vents from which an occasional moisture drip might damage a running appliance or cause the electrical short circuit.
- 8Never use any electrical appliance with wet hands or clothes, while you are standing in or over water, and avoid working near a sprinkler or in an area where there is rain.
10 Electrical Safety Tips at Home
Most household and commercial electrical appliances comes with a cord that may be attached to the appliance. In some cases the electrical cord can plug into the appliance and become separated or detachable. There might be occasions where the cord for the appliance is too short, so you may want to add length with an extension cord to reach the electrical outlet.
Note that using an extension cord involves some added risk because the longer lead length creates a potential trip hazard and the plug connection is a point that might permit moisture entry, could catch on furniture or come loose from the appliance cord.
Please keep these home electrical safety tips for tools in mind for the cords as well.
- 1Regularly inspect the electrical cords for cracks, frays or kinks, both in the cords of appliances and any extension cords.
- 2You might have one of the strings of coloured lights that people hang up to decorate houses or trees at Christmas. You need to check the whole length of the string before you put them up or turn them on.
- 3Don’t use the cords of appliances like ropes to tie them up onto walls or onto similar things as this may break the wires inside their plastic casing, which will not be visible from outside.
- 4When fixing an appliance at its designated place, do not staple or nail through the cords to hold them in place. Use electrical twist ties or approved electrical fixing brackets that are specifically designed for this purpose.
- 5The electrical outlets into which you plug the cord should hold the plug firmly.
- 6Do not pull or flick an extension cord to extract the plug as a loose cord might result and that may cause sparking. Never unplug an appliance by pulling at the cord. Instead, after switching the appliance and the power outlet to off, gently grip the plug and pull it from the outlet.
- 7Do not place any electrical cords beneath carpets or rugs because the bump (however small) can create a tripping hazard. Also, any frayed wire in the cord will not be visible to inspect so a spark from a frayed lead might start a fire. This is an important point for electrical safety in the workplace where areas are carpeted and workers either tape electrical cords to floors or put them under rugs.
- 8Do not tightly roll the appliance cords as a rolled cable is difficult to cool. This tight rolling of the cord may increase the temperature in the wire.
- 9Never make ad hoc modifications to the plug of the cord to make it fit into a power socket. Do not clip off the third prong or file off part of a wider prong for higher amperage plugs to make it fit into a smaller amperage outlet.
- 10Keep in mind the positioning of the electrical outlets in the house or workplace when placing your appliances so that extension cords are not needed. You should use indoor grade cords for your appliances.
Electrical Safety Tips for Electrical Outlets
When plugging appliance cords into electrical outlets check that the electrical outlet supports the design and wattage of the appliance. Here are some electrical safety at home tips for power outlets:
- 1Never insert non-electrical objects (things like pens, pencils, keys or any such) into an electrical outlet. You might observe this happening when the third earth pin of a plug is needed to put a plug into a earth protected power outlet. Fit the correct plug or find a safe close fitting plug adapter.
- 2If you have some power outlets at home that are rarely used or not being used, make them safe to children by using a cover plate or place childproof caps over them.
- 3If the power outlet is loose or broken, or the wiring is exposed to view, replace the outlet. The wiring inside the electrical outlet must remain be covered at all times.
- 4Never plug multiple cords and adaptors into a single electrical outlet as it may overload the outlet.
- 5Install a residual current device (RCD) which is a ground fault circuit interrupter to each circuit, particularly covering areas of the home that pose the greater electrical risk. Those room like the kitchen, bathrooms and poolside cabana, where water and electricity are close together, present a hazard but also remember that crawl spaces and unlined rooms like garages and unfinished basements also pose a threat if the wires are not in protective conduits.
Electric Safety Tips for Light Bulbs
Most rooms are illuminated by a humble light bulb. Light bulbs have a place in your household for providing light but they can also become a potential electrical hazard. These electrical safety at home tips are advised:
- 1Always use bulbs that match the wattage requirements of the fixture in which they are being used. Using a bulb of higher wattage leads to overheating of the fixture.
- 2You can get the same luminosity or intensity of light using a lower wattage compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb without the heating effect of running an incandescent light bulb. Switching to the CFL bulb is a good way of saving you electricity and money.
- 3Always unplug the light fitting or turn off the light fixture before you commence changing any light bulb. The replacement bulb should be inserted tightly (screwed in or the bayonets fully rotated in their slots) so that it does not fall out or cause sparking from being loosely inserted.
- 4If a CFL bulb is damaged and breaks, then open the windows of the room and clear the room of people and pets. The Nebraska Recycling Council recommends that you should keep people out of the room for at least fifteen minutes after the windows had been opened.
Electrical Safety Tips for Kids
Electrical safety at home includes being aware of electrical safety outdoors. Educate your kids to recognise electrical hazards that can be a threat. It may save your kids or their friends from electrocution when they were simply playing outdoors. You could explain to your children about the risks and dangers of electric power lines and discourage them from ever climbing power poles.
- 1Kids like to climb trees. A power line that passes through or very near a tree might look to a child like a hand hold but one that could be fatal. Don't let that happen. Arrange to prune trees that grow under and around power lines or completely remove them. Particularly, prune any trees near to power lines that approach your house.
- 2Encourage children to fly kites, model aircraft or balloons in clear areas of an open parkland, away from power lines. Tell them that if a kite gets caught in power lines they must leave the kite and advise adults who can alert the power company.
- 3Discourage your children from swimming or playing in water during an electrical storm.
- 4Store kitchen appliances out of the sight and reach of children. Kids might accidentally hurt themselves trying to operate live appliances.
- 5Working computers, projectors and television sets are connected through live electrical wires. Kids playing with the wires poses a risk of electrical shock. Parents need to educate their children about the danger of playing with electrical wires.
Summary Of Ten Electrical Safety At Home Tips
- 1Repair or replace any electrical appliance, light fitting, switch or electrical tools that are flickering or becoming hot when in use. Immediately remove from use any appliance, cord or tool that starts to give minor electric tingles and shocks.
- 2Do not modify, break off or reduce the earth prong of a plug of any appliance to make it fit the wall socket.
- 3Never overload a power outlet and switch by plugging in multiple adapters.
- 4Avoid using very long or multiple extension cords to provide power to a place not equipped with electricity.
- 5Know the position of fuse boxes, residual current devices and circuit breakers in your house and have some basic operational knowledge about how to reset them safely.
- 6If you have a blown fuse, before you look to fix the fuse, turn off and isolate all the appliances or lights that are connected to the circuit being protected by the fuse before you change the fuse. Do not start fiddling with switches and wires in the fuse box in dark conditions or with a candlelight. At night time or if it is dark enough to require additional light, have someone hold a flashlight to light the area when you open the fusebox replace a fuse or reset the breakers.
- 7In case of an electrical fire use a dry powder or CO2 fire extinguisher, DO NOT use water to douse the fire.
- 8If you need a faulty piece of equipment fixed, have a qualified electrician with appropriate certification and experience do the repair. Never start DIY rewiring of any electrical home appliances. If you are an amateur DIY handyman, it will be safer for your family and yourself to replace the gadget rather than suffer unintended consequences of doing repairs yourself. The fault might damage the appliance but an improper repair may make the appliance lethal for another member of your family or a friend when it gets used later.
- 9If you ever come across a power line that has fallen down, assume that it is live and immediately contact the electrical authorities in your area to alert them of your location. Do not try to ascertain whether the line on the ground is live or not live.
- 10Call your emergency services operator immediately when you find an electrical hazard, injury or fire. Put the emergency numbers up on a wall and let your children know what they are and how to use them in an emergency.
Working With Solar Electric Systems
Electricians are generally familiar with electricity coming from a single source; that being the utility side of the meter. Solar electric systems provide a second source of electricity from the on grid electric system.
A solar electric system has the capacity to produce power even when the main circuit breaker is switched off. Electricians need to isolate the ‘load’ from the power source before they proceed to work on a solar electric system. With a solar PV system you work on the power source itself (the PV panels and associated wiring), which is fundamentally different than working on an isolated mains power system. Even in low light a voltage potential be developed that can lead to an electric shock that could cause an injury.
To stop a solar array producing power cover the panels with an opaque cover that blocks sunlight to the solar panel. Removing the source of sunlight will prevent a solar panel from generating electricity. Even when caution is exercised with the panels, the PV inverters’ capacitors could retain a charge for a long time after the power source is removed. Always read the safety information and use an electrical multimeter to check the electrical potential of the equipment you are working on.
Treat the solar PV array with the same caution as you wold treat the utility power line as a PV array can generate up to 600 Volts DC potential.
There is potential for an electric arc-flash hazard if you are adding or removing a solar PV panel. NEVER disconnect PV wiring while under load! The energy from an arc-flash can cause burns. Always open the DC Disconnect Switch before any work is started on a solar PV system. Before working on the PV array use a current clamp to check for electrical energy.
Solar Electrical Safety At Home
There are added and different risks of injuries arising from solar electric systems. The electrical injuries are the same as for every electrical source. They are:
Electrical Shock Resulting In:
Working With Solar Batteries
Working with electrical systems having a solar electric battery back-up can be a very dangerous part of solar system installation and maintenance activity. Energised batteries can be lethal! As part of electrical safety at home, make sure you understand the dangers and safety codes relevant to working with batteries and battery systems.
You can refer to the battery manufacturer’s guidelines for proper handling, installation, and disposal of batteries. The typical solar back-up uses lead acid batteries which contain harmful chemicals. Lead is can cause reproductive harm and acid will produce severe burns if it contacts your body.
Exercise care to prevent arcing at battery terminals by opening the main DC disconnect switch between the batteries and the inverter before doing any work on the battery bank.
Remove your personal jewellery that could make contact and conduct electricity to your body. Using insulated tools, wearing personal protective equipment and wearing eye protection when working on batteries is a recommended good practice. Expired lead batteries are considered hazardous to health and the environment so dispose of them to a recycling centre.
How To Provide Aid After An Electrical Shock
Every electrical shock needs immediate emergency medical attention – regardless of the size of the shock and whether the person says they are feeling fine. When you find a person in contact with live electricity you need to act quickly. Find out the contact for the emergency services and write it down. Put the emergency services number somewhere that you can find it quickly or where your children know what it is for when needed. Call the emergency service number if you find a person who has made contact with electricity.
Here is an outline of what you can do
before, during and after making the call:
Separate The Person From The Source Of Electricity
- 1Shut off power at the main switch, fuse box, or circuit breaker.
- 2Unplug the appliance if the plug is not damaged.
- 3If you are not positioned to turn the power off, try to separate the person from electricity source.
- 4If the situation involves high voltage lines on the ground or across a vehicle contact the local power company to shut the power off.
If The Person Is Unconscious, Start Doing CPR (First Aid DRSABCD)
- 1When there is no risk to you (check for Danger), check the person for a Response and Send for emergency responder. Check their Airway and that the person is Breathing and has a pulse. If not breathing or no pulse is found, start CPR. If there is a Defibulator connecting it may assist with CPR compression timing.
- 2Continue CPR until the person has a pulse and is breathing, or until the emergency paramedical service arrive and take control.
Check The Person For Other Injuries
- 1Check the person for signs of bleeding, apply pressure and raise the injured part to reduce blood loss.
- 2Check the person for signs of a fracture. The electrical shock may have caused the person to fall.
- 3Check the person for signs of burns, cool the burn and make the person comfortable until the paramedical team arrive and treat them.
Wait For Emergency Services Specialists To Arrive
- 1Keep the person comfortable and reassure that medical help is on the way.
- 2Hand over the injured person to a doctor or paramedic with a basic situational report and then let the doctor check the person for injuries.
- 3The person may be admitted to the hospital or a burn center. Provide your contact details for helping with any follow up reports.
Final Electrical Safety At Home Tips
Some countries have frequent periods of electricity outages and need to use standby sources of power such as solar panel systems, gas generators and batteries. Fortunately, in many places, the electricity utility’s power generation is so efficient and well run that people take for granted that their power will be available, but even then it can drop out briefly and be inconvenient.
Electrical lighting and power to run appliances in your house provide convenience, save time and make life’s home chores easier. The convenience of electricity can also become a dangerous hazard if the wires, switches, electrical leads and appliances are not maintained in good condition.
Be Safer At Home - Closing Comments
This article proposes some safety tips relating to electrical safety at your home to reduce risk factors and make electrical mishaps less likely. Apply just some of the safety tips in this article to your home and remember them for your workplace.
Teach your children to tell you if they feel a tingle from any appliance. Show them how to check the electrical lead they use and let you know when things don't seem quite right. Help kids to understand that if they see frayed leads, or recognise electrical dangers then they need to share the information so everyone stays safe from harm.
A good electrical awareness can start anywhere. Be the best example you can be and start at home with inspecting the electrical plugs and leads. It's a good electrical safety idea and saves money too with switching off appliances after using them. Recognise the necessity for keeping water and electricity separated.
If you have not done a first aid course, consider doing the training. It a great benefit to you and those around you when knowing what to do if someone gets an electrical shock. That first aid knowledge could save them when they most need your help. A Defibrillator might seem over the top but it can save a life if you had a bad zap.
If you have an electrical panel with residual current device (RCD) or breakers, know how to reset them. Have a torch available for the reset which can happen at night and have someone hold the torch when you open the fusebox.
Feel free to share your experiences and to comment on this article in the section below. Share safety tips with your kids and consider that first aid training.
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