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Safe from shock

7 simple ways towards electrical safety at home

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Accidents are unexpected events that can place us in stressful situations. No place is completely safe – even our homes. We face the possibility of mishaps daily, despite the safety precautions we all take. Electrical safety is an area every home owner should prioritize. As it stands, electric shock is a cause of 30,000 non-fatal accidents in the United States annually, according to the National Safety Council. In the same study, at least 600 people are said to die from electrocution each year.

We are familiar with the basics of preventing electrocution such as unplugging appliances when not in use, and child-proofing electrical sockets. But experts say we can do more.

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• Think twice before you purchase appliances. You may appear to be paying 80 percent less for an unknown brand, but might be putting your family at risk with shoddy workmanship. Go for more established brands because they adhere to global safety standards. By paying more, you pay for more durable wires and even access to warranty and service centers.

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• Avoid overloading extension cords. While they were invented to give us better access to outlets, always be responsible when using these. Assess the wattage of the cord and the appliances you plan to plug in – heavy-duty appliances should be plugged into main outlets. Be mindful of where you place extension cords. Don’t keep them where they could get entangled or cause people to trip or fall. Should you need to use extension cords outdoors, tape the cord to keep it in place. Occasionally check on it (and appliances connected to it) to make sure everything is operating well.

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• Unplug appliances properly. Often, we are too lazy to stand up and go near the socket to unplug an appliance. Pull on plugs (never on the wire itself) to avoid tattering cords. Unplug what is not in use. Don’t leave chargers plugged long after your gadget is fully charged. You not only increase your home’s electrical consumption (and electricity bill) but also the risk of placing your family and house in danger.

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• Attend to electrical outlets that need to be repaired or replaced. Assess if you have to enlist the services of an experienced electrician as well. Loose plugs, broken or open wall plates, and exposed wires can cause electrical shock.  If you have to wait until the weekend for the repair to be done, secure the outlet that needs attending. Use electrical tape to cover it and place a “Do Not Use” sign to remind others not to use it.

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• Keep water away from anything electrical.

Even modern hotels have relocated where hair dryers are placed to discourage use near the bathtub or sink. Educate your house help and your kids’ caretakers on what toys and gadgets children cannot play with while they take a bath. Strategically place kitchen appliances such as toasters and coffee makers away from the sink.

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• Consider the safety of your pets as well. Many of our pets get to freely roam our homes. This is an extra reason to properly maintain appliances and electrical sockets. Their toys, bowls, and feeders should be placed away from electrical sources.  Child-proof items such as outlet covers can be used to protect your pets, too.

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• Pinch them not. Excessive pressure on power cables can damage insulation or compress the conducting wire, says cableorganizer.com. The site says to treat cords gently by regularly checking if they are not pinched underneath or between furniture or by tightly taking them down.