Electrical Safety For The Winter Season
Jonathan Z. Kremer
Statistically speaking, consumers seem to buy more electrical appliances during
the winter than they do during the rest of the year. Appliances such as heaters,
emergency lights, and electric blankets can be found on sale in many stores
around the country - each store trying to entice the shoppers with special
displays and offers.
When buying electrical appliances, the consumer should be very careful that they
do not purchase appliances with questionable safety issues. Unfortunately, many
of the products being sold are either cheap copies of brand name products, or
low quality, "unknown" brands - that are here today and gone tomorrow. These
"knock-off" brands use inferior materials and questionable manufacturing
processes to reduce the cost of their products, allowing them to be sold at
prices that cannot be matched by any quality brand manufacturer. Such products
can be very dangerous to use, causing damage, injury, and even death. Following
are some tips on how to avoid cheaply made and unsafe electrical products:
- Make it a point to purchase products from reputable stores,
companies, distributors and retailers.
- If the bargain is too good to be true, it probably is. You could be
buying a defective and unsafe product.
- See if the manufacturer's name and contact information can be
found on the packaging. If not, consider making the purchase
elsewhere or buying a different brand.
- Check to see if the warning label does not conflict with
information elsewhere on the product or the packaging. Grammatical
errors in the labeling can be a tell-tale sign of a cheaply made
Safety Tips for
Portable Space Heaters
Keep drapes, newspapers, clothing and other combustible objects a safe distance
Plug portable space heaters directly into the outlet. Do not use extension cords
or 3-in 1 adapters.
Always put heaters in a place where they can't be tipped over easily. It's best
to keep them on the floor where they have less of a chance of falling and
becoming a potential fire or shock hazard.
Do not use heaters in wet or moist areas, such as bathrooms, unless they are
specifically built for that purpose. Doing so can not only corrode the heater,
but can be a dangerous shock hazard.
Make sure that the plug of the heater fits snugly in the outlet. A worn-out
outlet can overheat, burning up both the outlet and plug. If left unnoticed,
this can start a fire throughout the house.
Note: The plug of the heater will usually get warm to the
touch when the heater is in use. This is OK. Make sure that it doesn't get hot.
Do not run cords under rugs or carpets. Doing so can cause the cord to overheat
and start a fire.
Broken heaters should be checked and repaired only by a qualified appliance
service center. Do not attempt to make any repairs to the heater yourself.
Don't use space heaters in rooms where children are unsupervised. Children may
stick their fingers or other objects through the protective guards, causing
burns or shock.
Turn off the space heater and unplug it when not in use.
Safety Tips for
Electric Blankets and Heating Pads
Electric blankets (that one covers with) and electric heating pads (that put
directly on the mattress) should not be used interchangeably or at the same
Before plugging in your electric blanket or pad, check for any damage and
inspect for worn cords and other damage.
Never get into bed with a heating pad switched on. Unplug it first otherwise it
may overheat and catch fire. Likewise, never lie on top of an electric blanket
when it's switched on. This could also start a fire.
Electric blankets should not be tucked under the mattress and nothing should be
placed on top of the blanket while it is in use (including quilts, blankets and
Use the ties on the heating pad to secure it to the mattress. This prevents
slipping and creasing which could damage the elements.
Do not fold the electric blanket while it's being used. This can cause the
blanket to overheat and burn out. Make sure the blanket has a mechanism to cut
off the power if the blanket overheats
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the electric blanket or
pad. Most advise against using heating blankets on waterbeds, sofas, bunk beds,
or mechanical beds.
When washing the blanket, make sure it is completely dry before use. Never
dry-clean an electrical blanket because the chemicals can damage the heating
insulation and increase the risk of fire.
Other General Safety
Try to avoid using candles for lighting during a power outage. Instead use
flashlights and other battery-powered lights which are not a potential fire
Make sure you have a good supply of flashlights, batteries, and other such
supplies in case of emergency.
When the power goes out, turn off any major appliances, leaving only a light or
two in the "on" position to act as a signal for when the power returns. Larger
appliances left on can cause an over-load.
When disconnecting an electrical cord, pull from the plug, not the cord itself.
Make sure that your electrical devices are in good working order. Check for worn
electric cords and broken switches. Broken or bent parts in a heater can cause
fires and electrical shock.
Eliminate "octopus" connections. Plugging multiple cords into a single socket
can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
Remember than no matter how safety conscious you think you are, things can
always go wrong. It is a good idea to prepare for the unexpected. A good
functioning smoke alarm can dramatically increases your chances of surviving a
fire. Make sure that the batteries checked frequently. Also a class C fire
extinguisher can save lives and damage. For more information on fire
extinguishers click here.
For more electrical safety tips see:
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