How Can You Safeguard Your Home Against The Winter Electrical Hazards?

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Mark Jardine
June 11, 2024
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Winter is a perfect time to stay indoors with a big blanket and hot chocolate because of the frigid weather and snowy mountain tops. While you stay indoors out of the chilly weather, you should pay more attention to your electrical safety. Your electrical system may be under stress throughout the winter due to the severe weather and increased use of electrical equipment. Because of this, it's crucial to take precautions to protect your house against winter electrical threats.
Thankfully, there are quick and easy steps you can take to make sure your house is ready for the chilly weather. Homeowners should take a few steps with the onset of winter to protect their family and property from these risks. At Home Alliance, we've put up a checklist for an electrical inspection you can take to protect your house against winter electrical dangers.

Test and Clean Smoke Alarms

In the winter, when heaters are on, electrical fires are more frequent—over 4,500 home fires yearly, with about 40% caused by electrical equipment or system failure. Having functional smoke alarms is your home's best defense against a fire. Smoke alarms are life-saving tools that alert users to the presence of smoke much before a sleeping person would, giving them vital seconds to act to protect both people and property. If your smoke alarms aren't functioning, your risk of dying in a house fire is double. Please don't put off getting your fire alarms tested annually; it should be high on your list of things to accomplish. Fire safety is essential and fundamental for you and your family. As a general guideline, you should replace your smoke alarm if it is ten years old or older.

Inspect Existing Electrical Appliances and Equipment

Electric blankets, blow heaters, and oil heaters are frequently stored most of the year and brought out in the winter. Make careful to thoroughly clean them before plugging them in because dust can result in smoke, overheating, and even electrical fires. Second, ensure there is no degradation where the wire is visible or the cords are not frayed, kinked, or otherwise damaged. It's advisable to replace any damaged appliances rather than using them, or at the very least, get them checked out by a certified electrician who can do electrical repairs for wiring and cabling.

Give your Appliances Proper Space for Air Circulation to Avoid Overheating

Electrical equipment that isn't correctly ventilated risks overheating, shorting out, and electrical fire. Ensure appropriate airflow for your appliances, and refrain from operating electrical equipment in closed cabinets. Additionally, it's critical to keep combustible items stored far from all devices and appliances for maximum electrical safety. Keep a close eye on your gas or electric dryer since you must place it at least a foot away from the wall to operate securely.

Space Heaters Can Be Extremely Hazardous

Although it might be alluring to use a space heater to add more heat to a specific room, homeowners must utilize it appropriately. Space heaters are to blame for 15% of all residential fires that start during the winter in the United States. Using a space heater correctly:
  • Allow 3 feet of space around the heater in each direction.
  • Never use an extension cable to plug in a space heater. Plugging in a space heater can cause extension cables to overheat.
  • Avoid putting the space heater's cable under a rug because it might tear or overheat, which could ignite.
  • When not in use, disconnect the heater and keep it under supervision.
  • Place the heater on a level, flat surface only.

Replace or Repair Damaged Electrical Cords

It is recommended to have worn, frayed, or broken electrical cables fixed or replaced since they might provide a fire risk. To prevent safety issues, you should periodically inspect your electrical cords for symptoms of fraying and splitting.

Use Heaters Responsibly

It's critical to understand that heaters may be harmful. If you use electric heaters, set them safely away from drapes, furniture, carpets, etc. Be mindful that popular heaters like space and oil heaters consume much power. They may also quickly overload circuits, resulting in a fire or a power outage. The heater's components can also get rather hot in some places. Although adults can also unintentionally rub up against the scorching surface, children and animals are particularly susceptible to getting burnt. To prevent them from toppling, position them on flat, level ground. This is particularly crucial if your heater has an automated shutdown for when it is knocked over. Lastly, switch off the heating before you leave the room. This will save your power cost and is an excellent safety measure. Disconnect your heater entirely if you will be using it for a while.

Avoid Overloading Extension Cords

Many residences rely on extension cables to power their electrical equipment and appliances because they lack adequate electrical outlets. Overloads and short circuits are frequently the outcomes of this. Avoiding the usage of extension cords and being aware of the amperage of fuses and circuit breakers are the best ways to prevent overloading electrical points in your house. Also, avoid overloaded power points by updating your electrical system and installing extra outlets.

Keep Your Used and Unused cords Tidy and Secure to Prevent Damage

You must maintain power cables must be held securely to avoid damage, so electrical safety precautions don't simply apply to them when they're in use. Keep cables stored away from kids and pets (who may chew on or play with the cords). Avoid tightly wrapping cables around items since this might strain the line or make it overheat. Never rest a cord on a hot surface to avoid harming the cable's insulation and wires.

Overloading Outlets

According to general wisdom, you should only use electrical outlets for one high-wattage item at a time. When purchasing extra Christmas lights, it's common for individuals to plug them into the closest socket. The safest choice, though, might not be that. The circuits in your home might be overloaded if you plug in electric space heaters, Christmas lights, electrical decorations, and other items that people typically use during the winter. Your breakers may trip, so you are cutting off electricity to a portion of your house. Flipping the breaker could be a temporary remedy, but if it happens frequently, you should consider upgrading your home's electrical system.

Water and Electrical Safety

The ideal location for kitchen and bathroom outlets is safe from the sinks and showers. Use outlet plug covers if they aren't if you want to avoid electric shock and unintentional touch. Never use moist hands to operate a hairdryer or any other electrical device. Remind kids to properly dry their hands before using appliances and to keep their hands away from faucets, sinks, and bathtubs when using them.

Use Electric Blankets Responsibly

Electric blankets may be hazardous if not used properly and have been known to start electrical fires. When utilizing them, we advise the following safety measures:
  • Set the timer for 30 minutes at a time, then switch it on to warm the bed 30 minutes before bed.
  • Before going to bed, turn off your electric blanket. Sleeping with an electric blanket on is not only unsafe but also unhealthy. Please make sure everyone in the home develops the habit of turning it off before bed.
  • Before using, check the electric blanket's wiring for fraying and other defects.
  • If your electric blanket is more than ten years old, replace it.

Install a Whole House Surge Protector

During the winter, there is a higher chance of electricity problems. Therefore, it makes sense to shield your home's equipment from voltage spikes in the event of a power surge. Installing a whole-house surge protector will protect your electrical system and appliances and secure your safety while a power surge occurs.

Christmas Light Safety Tips

One method to protect your house from winter electrical risks is by adhering to Christmas light safety recommendations. Here are some pointers to remember:
  • Never overload a circuit with more than three light strings.
  • Always use outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters when using extension cables and outdoor lighting (GFCIs)
  • Keep lights turned on at all times.
  • Before bed or leaving the house, carefully disconnect all the lights and other holiday decorations.
  • Before utilizing any lights, wires, or plugs, check them for damage.

Final Thoughts

Winter is a season for warm fireplaces, hot cocoa, and family time, but it's also a season to use power with caution. Be aware of your surroundings; therefore, use caution when utilizing space heaters and extension cables. Never use an appliance when you are asleep or in the restroom, and ensure there is plenty of space around them. When using Christmas lights to decorate for the holidays, keep in mind to maintain your HVAC system and follow safety precautions to make sure they are UL registered and in excellent working order. Finally, always use caution while around electrical equipment.
A few additional electrical dangers that might arise in your house during the winter are listed above. Call Home Alliance if you need help or if you have any queries. Book a service today!