From Engineering on December 11, 2007 in Electrical
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 300 people in the U.S. die each year due to electrical shocks. Electricity flows naturally to the ground through anything that conducts electricity, including our bodies.
Since light-strung trees are already flashing across millions of homes around the country, we figure its a good time to talk about electrical safety. Heres some sound advice from the NSC to keep Christmas trees worthy of your attention for the right reason, that is: because theyre seasonal and symbolic and not because they make your arm buzz uncomfortably when you touch them.
- Using lights from way back when? Make sure they arent faulty: this means no broken or cracked sockets, no frayed or bare wires, and no loose connections.
- Keep outdoor lights outdoors, not in your living room.
- To avoid fire, position the tree away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat, and make sure the needles are fresh. If using an artificial tree, make it a fire-resistant variety.
- Keep cords above the rug, and use no more than three sets of lights on any one extension cord, please.
Now, here are some additional tips for every season. Because lights and appliances are used all-year-long, and thats how long we care about your safety.
- Check on your cords and plugs! When appliances or tools have faulty wiring, electricity will try to find an alternate path to the ground.
- This is why electrical systems should always be grounded. Three-prong plugs are grounded because they include a path to the ground along the current. Use em!
- Which brings us to the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), a nifty device that monitors electrical currents and switches off the circuit before injury occurs. These should always be installed by a certified electrical contractor where water and electricity are at risk of coming into contact: in the bathroom, laundry room, basement, outdoors, within six feet of the kitchen sink, and near swimming pools.
- Dont overload! Multiple prongs and adapters in your outlets not a good thing.
- Cover outlets, especially if you have little ones.
- When working near large appliances located close to the ground, such as a laundry machine, refrain from touching it while holding another, smaller appliance, such as an iron. You may be the bridge directing electricity along its desired path to the ground. Not recommended!