Electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property. However, you can take simple precautions when working with or near electricity and electrical equipment to significantly reduce the risk of injury to you, your workers and others around you. This section provides a summary of those precautions.
Now that cooler weather has arrived, So like to use electric blankets. Is your new electric blanket safe to use?
Choose an electric blanket that conforms to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards. This safety certification organization has been testing products and establishing standards for over 100 years.
Lay the heated area of the electric blanket flat rather than folded or balled up so the heat doesn’t become too intense.
Place the blanket on top of you, not under you, to prevent damaging the blanket’s internal coils. Keep other items such as books, pillows and stuffed animals off of the blanket so heat has a way to escape.
Keep pets away from electric blankets, especially while in use. A sharp claw or tooth could puncture the cord insulation or damage the wires.
Turn off the electric blanket when no one is using it. Most models have no internal temperature control, so they will not automatically turn off if they overheat.
Loosely wrap the control cords around the blanket when folding it up for storage.
Turn off and unplug the electric blanket immediately if you see smoke or smell something burning. Blanket discoloration could indicate melting or burning internal elements.
Don’t use if one area of the blanket becomes overheated or you see a scorch mark on the blanket.
Don’t use electric blankets on infants or toddlers, people with disabilities, or anyone who can’t operate the heating controls themselves.
Don’t use an electric blanket all night unless it is specifically rated for safe overnight use.
Don’t run the power cord between the mattress and the box spring when using the electric blanket in bed. This could damage or heat up the cord and potentially cause a fire.
Don’t twist or pinch the control cords since this could damage them. This is also means you shouldn’t use electric blankets with adjustable hospital beds, sofa sleepers, or Murphy beds where the cords could become pinched in the bed-folding mechanisms.
Don’t use an electric blanket on a waterbed.
Don’t use an electric blanket and a heated mattress pad at the same time. The combined warmth could cause overheating and possibly start a fire.
Don’t wash your electric blanket. The twisting and tugging motions of a washing machine are almost certain to damage the internal coils.
Don’t iron your electric blanket. This could melt the cord insulation.
Don’t dry clean your electric blanket. Solvents used in dry cleaning could damage the cord insulation.
It may seem like using an electric blanket comes with many do’s and don’ts, but most of them are fairly common sense. Use your electric blanket safely and you’ll enjoy added warmth and coziness this winter.
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
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.
Choose the right extension cord for the job, and use it as specified. Extension cords can overheat and cause fires when used improperly. Overheating is usually caused by overloading or connecting equipment that consume more watts than the cord can handle. Damaged extension cords can also cause fires. Extension cords should only be used temporarily. Unplugging the cords when not in use.
Overheating or Damage
Overheating can occur at the plug, at the socket, or over the entire length of the cord. Hot plugs and sockets are often caused by deteriorated connections to the cord’s wires.
Look for visible signs of excessive wear or damage to the plug, sockets or insulation.Replace damaged extension cords
If any part of the extension cord is hot while in use, it is a warning sign that it may be overloaded. Check if the extension cord is properly rated for the products that are plugged into it. Also, inspect the cord along its entire length to ensure it has not been damaged.
Do not overload your extension cord by using it to power appliances beyond its capacity. You can check its capacity, or rating, by looking at the tag on the cord or its packaging.
Protect Extension Cords from Damage
Do not run extension cords under carpets, through doorways or under furniture.
Only use an extension cord outdoors if it is marked for outdoor use.
Never alter a cord to change its length or perform inadequate repairs such as taping up damaged insulation. Do not trim, cut or alter the plug blades in any way. Unplug an extension cord when it is not in use. The cord is energized when it is plugged in and can overheat if shorted.
Discard Older Extension Cords
Discard cords that are old and/or are missing important safety features, including safety closures, polarized blades and a large plug face that covers the outlet’s slots and is easy to grasp to unplug.
Extension cords should be at least 16 AWG, unless they are 18 AWG with fuse protection. AWG refers to the size of the wires in the cord. The wire size is imprinted on the cord’s surface.
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Between 2011–2015, U.S. fire departments responded to 54,030 structure fires that involved heating equipment.
These fires caused:
480 civilian fire deaths
1,470 civilian fire injuries
$1.1 billion in direct property damage.
Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) of home heating fire deaths.
The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (53%) of home heating fire deaths.
Half (50%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.
When buying and installing a small space heater, follow these guidelines:
Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
Space heater safety tips
Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles.
Use space heaters only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home’s heating system.
Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
Inspect the heater’s cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified technician. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.
Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged or break parts in the heater.
Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.
Look for the UL Mark on your electric heater. This means representative samples of the appliance have met UL’s stringent safety standards.
If you have a liquid-fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment was designed for and cause a serious fire.
When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool down completely before adding fuel. Wipe away any spills promptly.
Before you buy a kerosene heater, check with your local fire department to ensure that it is legal.
Please watch this video if you plan on using a portable space heater this winter.