Different rooms in your home hold more risk than others, depending on the types of appliances or the amount of water that’s being introduced into the system. You can perform a room-by-room assessment of any risks and take steps to reduce the likelihood of an electrical accident.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and also the location for many of your home appliances. All of the cooking goes on there so there is heat from the oven, cooktop and microwave oven. This means kitchen appliances such as the dishwasher and refrigerator are potential sources of an electrical malfunction.
In the kitchen:
- Check the range, oven, and exhaust hood for debris that could catch fire.
- Make sure the cooking area is free of towels and napkins. Also, check to ensure that heat-producing appliances, such as toasters and coffee makers are away from combustible materials. Unplug those appliances when not in use.
- Ensure there is room for air circulation behind the refrigerator.
- Clean the refrigerator coils.
- Remove electrical appliances near the sink.
- Test GFCIs each month. These are ground fault circuit interrupters and should be located in outlets near sinks.
Like kitchens, bathrooms see heavy use for appliances such as hair dryers and curling irons. Bathrooms are also potential sources of moisture coming into contact with electrical sources.
Water and electricity don’t mix. One of the best ways to avoid electric shock risk is to install fault circuit interrupters. These devices will make rooms where water is more likely to be in use safer. An arc-fault circuit interrupter, or AFCI, is a circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects the electric arcs that are a signature of loose connections in home wiring.
In the bathroom:
- Always unplug hair dryers and other such tools when not in use.
- Never use a portable heater in the bathroom. Safer options are ceiling units or strip heaters placed up high.
- Do not leave appliances plugged in while you are using the sink or tub.
- Turn on a ventilation fan to remove steam and moisture from hot showers.
Family Room and Bedrooms
Family rooms contain many types of electronics, lamps, and equipment that could be a source for electrical accidents. Rugs, fabric curtains, and pillows create a source of combustible material for arcing electric currents to ignite.
In family rooms and bedroom:
- Make sure outlet and switch cover plates are not cracked, broken, or hot to the touch.
- Avoid using an extension cord as a permanent power solution. Plug valuable electronics into a surge protector to hedge against power surges.
- Avoid running power cords under rugs.
- Check for a working smoke alarm on every level of the home and if possible, in each bedroom.
- Test smoke alarms each month.
- Keep combustibles – blankets, sheets, pillows, curtains, and rugs away from lamps or light bulbs.
- Pay attention to recommended bulb wattages for light fixtures.
- If a portable air conditioner is used, make sure it is plugged into its own dedicated circuit.
The basement of a home is often where the breaker panel is located. It is important to have easy access to this piece of equipment and to label breakers with corresponding outlets.
For many homes, the laundry room is located in the basement. An electric clothes dryer – along with the water heater, furnace, and oven – is among the biggest consumers of electricity in the house. Keep a watchful eye on these two areas for any potential electric hazards.
In the basement:
- Do not store items on the floor in front of the breaker panel so that you can access it easily at all times.
- The panel should have a closed cover that is never locked.
- The panel should have a directory index identifying each individual circuit breaker, as well as the various receptacles, area, or equipment serviced by each circuit breaker.
- Have the furnace cleaned and inspected by a licensed professional each year.
- Clean the dryer’s lint filter after each load.
The Choose Energy expert opinion
“Electricity is so much a part of our daily lives that it is easy to take it for granted. Knowing where potential dangers lie within your home can help you protect yourself, your family and your property.”
[Thomas Skjaveland]/[thitipong chotwicha]/Shutterstock