3 Common Electrical Dangers in the Household
December 2, 2020 | Cristina Dinulescu
Our life is strongly connected to electricity. Living without it could very well be impossible, not to mention that it’s not in the least desirable. Electricity is what powers up the fridge keeping the food cold and lights up the home, but it brings not only benefits. Unfortunately, the risk of an electrical hazard is very high in a household, and every year, more than 35,000 electrical home structure fires occur. Annually, these fires end up causing more than $1.4billion in property damage.
Knowing the damage electricity can cause, it is important to learn both the warning signs of a deficient system being able to quickly recognize a possible electrical hazard and the best safety tips at home. However, before getting there, it might be best to start by understanding what the most common electrical dangers in a household are.
1. Electric Shock
An electrical shock takes place when an individual comes into contact with an energy source. Energy flows through the body causing a shock. The level of danger from an electrical shock depends on several factors like the type of current, the voltage level, the path the current took when traveling through the body, the overall state of the person’s health, and the speed with which treatment is given.
An electrical shock may cause burns, but it can also leave one with no visible marks on the body. However, electrical current passing through one’s body can cause internal damage, cardiac arrest, or other trauma. It is important to understand that under certain circumstances, even the smallest amount of electric current can be fatal.
4 Electrical Safety Tips for Treating Victims Indoors
Sometimes, it can be crucial to know how to react in the face of an electrical shock. Here are 4 safety tips that can help avoid getting injured when witnessing a person suffering an electrical shock indoors.
- If you find yourself indoors and notice a person coming into contact with low-voltage electricity, under no circumstances should you touch them.
- If possible, try to switch the power off.
- If possible, attempt to separate the individual from the electrical current without actually touching them.
- It is important to remember using a non-conductive material to separate the person in question and taking them away from the electrical current. As far as non-conductive materials are concerned, you can choose from dry wood, rope, or a broom handle.
2 Electrical Safety Tips for Treating Victims Outdoors
In case a person suffers an electric shock outdoors, here are two safety rules to offer a helping hand but still keep yourself safe and out of harm’s way.
- If the individual in question has come into contact with high-voltage electrical current, or outdoor wires, the first thing you need to do is to call 911. Then, call the power company as soon as possible.
- Under no circumstances should you attempt to touch or try to free the victim from the wires.
Many people refer to electrocution by using the term shock. However, this is not exactly correct. Electrocution and electric shock are not the same. In fact, the difference between the two could very well be a matter of life and death.
Of course, both are very serious even though the consequences carried by electrocution and electrical shock are different both legally and medically.
When speaking of electrocution, it means that someone has died as a result of contact with electricity. Common electrocution causes include:
- accidental contact with a downed power line;
- accidental contact with exposed sources of electricity, such as exposed wires;
- contact with an electrical arc flash or a power line.
Electrical shocks, in contrast to electrocution, involve injuries that do not necessarily result in death. However, an electrical shock is not a small matter. People suffering from shocks may suffer severe, catastrophic, even life-altering injuries. Here are some of the common injuries electrical shocks may cause:
- Severe burns
- Memory loss
- Hearing loss
- Permanent heart damage
- Cardiac arrest and/or arrhythmia
- Heart muscle damage
- Spine injury
- Respiratory failure
- Loss of kidney function
- Deformity at point of contact
3. Electrical Fires
Home electrical fires are more deadly and costly than ever before. Unfortunately, even though the number of total fires and fire injuries is decreasing, the number of property damage and fire deaths is increasing. Yearly, arc-fault, caused by overburdened circuits, worn and inadequate wiring, aging electrical systems, and outdated technology, is the primary cause of over 35,000 home fires, resulting in over 1,130 injuries, 500 deaths, and property damage of $1.4 billion.
The two most common dangers that represent the main cause of electrical fires are cooking and space heaters.
Useful Tips to Prevent Cooking Fires
Since cooking can cause an electrical fire, here are a few tips to stay safe and prevent any hazards while in the kitchen:
- Make sure you keep anything that can easily burn away from the stovetop;
- Do not leave the kitchen when cooking;
- Unplug any cooking appliances you might have after use;
- Install GFCI receptacles in your kitchen, because they are highly efficient when it comes to preventing shock and electrocution. Also, make sure to test them often.
Useful Tips to Prevent Fires Caused by Heaters
The second most common cause in the United States for home fires is the heating equipment installed in your house. Here are a few useful tips to prevent heating fires:
- Keep flammables at least 3 feet away from heaters;
- Avoid using extension cords with your heaters – plug them into wall receptacles;
- Make sure to position the heaters flat on the ground;
- Don’t leave the heater on when sleeping or leaving the room;
- Do not use a heater with a run-down cord.