Winter Electrical Safety
The use of electricity understandably increases during winter when sunlight is limited, the days are shorter and the temperatures down to freezing. The need for warmth and the desire to stay indoors translates to an increase in the use of electricity, which in turn increases the risks that are associated with electricity.
Make sure you have functioning Carbon Monoxide Detectors.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless gas that kills at high concentrations and causes irreversible injuries at lower levels. Since CO comes from the burning of fossil fuel, Carbon Monoxide poisoning more frequently occurs during winter.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide exposure:
- Shortness of Breath
- Vision Problems
- Rapid Heartbeat
Ignoring these symptoms can be fatal. Even at low levels, the damage caused by Carbon Monoxide exposure can lead to lifelong health problems.
Use space heaters safely and sparingly.
Due to the cold winter weather, you need to find additional ways to stay warm. For both financial and safety reasons, you shouldn’t rely on these supplemental options long term.
- Keep anything flammable away from the space heater front, including paper, drapes, pillows, blankets.
- Supervise children around save heaters. Space heaters can be a burn or shock hazard.
- Make sure the space heater plug is in good shape. A beaten-up plug can start fires.
- Do not run cords underneath area rugs. This can start a fire.
- never plug one into an extension cord or power strip.
Electric Blankets and Heating Pads
- Electric blankets and heating pads should never be used together on a bed.
- Get into the habit of inspecting your electric blanket or pad for flaws or fraying wires before you plug them in.
- Never tuck an electric blanket under a mattress, or cover with another blanket or layer.
- Be sure to follow instructions provided by the manufacturer before plugging in and using your blanket or pad.
Don’t overload circuits or wattage.
Despite the darker days, only use the recommended wattage for your light fixture. Don’t overload wall outlets and only plug three-prong cords into three-prong outlets. Use extension cords only for temporary purposes.
The most obvious sign of an electrical circuit overload is a breaker tripping and shutting off all the power. Other signs can be less noticeable:
- Dimming lights, especially if lights dim when you turn on appliances or more lights.
- Buzzing outlets or switches.
- Outlet or switch covers that are warm to the touch.
- Burning odors from outlets or switches.
- Scorched plugs or outlets.