Be Prepared: Electrical Safety - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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Be Prepared: Electrical Safety

Ensure you won't be left with a shocking or smoldering problem. (Source: Choking Sun/Flickr commons) Ensure you won't be left with a shocking or smoldering problem. (Source: Choking Sun/Flickr commons)
(WAFF) -

According to the National Fire Protection Association, incidents involving electrical equipment result in more than 40,000 residential fires every year, which claim over 350 lives, cause over 1,500 injuries, and cause millions of dollars in damage.

Read more from the NFPA.

The number one recommendation with electrical safety is to call an electrician. If you suspect you have faulty wiring or a short circuit, or if anything even seems ‘off’, if you don’t have a full understanding of how the wiring works, you could easily end up hurt, with damaged property, or even dead.

The second recommendation is to have a working smoke detector in the event that something does catch fire, especially while you’re sleeping.

It is also crucial to have a fire extinguisher in your home.

For preventative tips, we’ll start with your circuit breaker. You’ve probably had it trip at some point in your life. Sometimes, this indicates too large of an electrical load. Other times, it may mean a more severe electrical problem.

Don’t keep trying to reset a breaker more than once - you may end up causing a fire.

Extension cords should only be used for temporary solutions. If you need to power a spot permanently, have a licensed electrical contractor install a power source.

Never use frayed or cracked cords. This applies to all wiring. Be sure to use the right cord for the job, too. There are specific cords for things like heaters and outdoor use.

As for plugs and outlets, you’ve no doubt heard this before: don’t overload the outlets with too many plugs.

“A lot of people get those cheap ones and plug it in and think, 'Well, the more outlets, the more power I have,'" said Ray Morris, an electrical technology instructor. "That's not how it works. You've got a certain amount of amps on that circuit."

Replace any broken or missing switch plate covers immediately. The receptacles are inexpensive and should be replaced if they are broken, no longer hold a plug securely, or spark or make noise when you insert or remove a plug.

Use lockout receptacles or childproof plugs if young children will be around.

GFCIs, or ground fault circuit interrupters, are code-required in wet areas, like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and garages. As a general rule, you should test these monthly to ensure it is providing protection for your family.

To test your GFCI, you’ll want to plug in a lamp or hairdryer that you want to test, turn it on, and push the ‘test’ button. The power should immediately go out on the lamp.

If the power doesn't switch itself off, and if the lamp doesn't turn off, then the socket could be faulty or wired up incorrectly. To properly restore power, you’ll want to press the ‘reset’ button.

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