A minor electrical shock will send a small, jolting buzz of electricity through your body and make your hair stand on end. More powerful events can lead to cardiac arrest, serious electrical burns, and even death. Although much of the electrical system in your Shakopee, MN home is hidden behind drywall and other building elements, it has a major impact on the health and safety of residents. The following are 10 tips for preventing electrical shocks and the damage they cause.

1. Avoid DIY Electrical Installations and Repairs

The best way to ensure the safety of your home’s electrical system is by hiring licensed electricians to handle all new installations, maintenance, and repairs. Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects can cause problems where none existed before. They can also leave serious and potentially hazardous electrical issues unnoticed and unchecked.

Hiring an electrician will keep your home’s electrical system code-compliant and on par with all of the most current electrical safety standards. It will also give your electrician the chance to spot and resolve hidden threats.

2. Never Use Damaged Devices or Appliances

Among the most common causes of electrical shocks are damaged devices and appliances. You should never use electronics with frayed cords, exposed wiring, or evidence of overheating. Checking the integrity of electrical cords and looking for other electrical problems is especially important after purchasing or inheriting secondhand items.

When in doubt, it’s best to throw a faulty appliance out or have it professionally inspected and repaired. A low-cost toaster can cause far more damage and physical harm than it’s worth, as can cell phone chargers with cracked wall boxes, exposed wiring, or a tendency to overheat.

3. Don’t “Daisy Chain” Extension Cords or Run Them Through High-Traffic Areas

Extension cords and power strips are perfectly safe to use when used correctly. However, “daisy chaining” or connecting multiple extension cords is not. If you need two or more connected extension cords to plug a device in, you should move this device to a more accommodating location instead.

Longer cord lengths and multiple, interconnected cords increase electrical resistance. This leads to greater heat generation and a greater risk of sparks, fires, and electrical shocks. Using interconnected extension cords also often means having them travel across the floor or under rugs and furnishings. In high-traffic areas, this increases the risk of cord damage, exposure to moisture, and electrical fires. It’s also a major trip-and-fall hazard.

4. Remove Cords By Their Plugs Rather Than Their Cables

Most people have removed an electrical cord by tugging its cable at least once in their lifetime. Whether in a hurry or simply unconcerned with the integrity of corded items, pulling cords by their cables rather than by their plugs will eventually cause wiring damage. Even if a cord looks intact after being forcibly ripped out of an outlet, problems just beneath its insulating cover could lead to electrical burns, shocks, or fires. Always grab cords by their plugs, and gently remove them from outlets instead.

5. Don’t Ignore the Signs of Electrical System Damage

If you have outlet covers that are coated in thick black soot or outlets that periodically emit thin, whitish smoke, it’s important to have them inspected right away. Many people put problems like these off and simply move their devices and appliances to other unaffected outlets. However, even when damaged outlets aren’t in use, they still pose a safety hazard. Unsuspecting residents might use them or the frayed wiring behind outlet covers could cause electrical arcs and fires. Light switches that regularly trigger circuit breakers, spark, or deliver low-voltage shocks should be reported as well.

6. Have Your Electrical System Updated

If your home is 30 years old or older and hasn’t had its electrical system updated in a while, now is a great time to do so. Aging wiring, electrical contacts, outlets, circuits, and circuit breakers can all lead to physical injuries. With time, many electrical system components become increasingly poor conductors or poor insulators. Scheduling an upgrade will limit the risk of physical harm and electrical fires. It will also ensure that your electrical system is capable of safely supporting all of your modern devices and appliances.

It’s important to note that aging outlets don’t have to be damaged to cause electrical shocks. Build-ups of dust behind outlet covers can create the conditions for fires, sparks, and electrocution. If you have problems with cockroaches, mice, rats, or other critters, the area just behind your outlets could be filled with food, feces, and other leavings. Many pests nibble on electrical wiring insulation and cause other structural problems in unseen areas. Having your electrical system updated every 15 to 25 years will give you a fresh start and minimize the risk of wear-related hazards.

7. Cover Unused Outlets

Uncovered outlets are all too appealing to babies and toddlers. To keep your little ones protected, install outlet covers where needed. Kids can sustain potentially fatal electrocution injuries when prodding uncovered outlets with keys, forks, and other metal items.

Outlet covers have evolved significantly in recent years. Although there are still basic, low-cost options that you can plug in and remove as needed, there are also far more sophisticated designs that are installed once and immediately engage for protection as soon as cords are removed.

8. Keep Your Electronics Away From Water

Electricity and water don’t mix. Keep your electronics away from sinks, bathtubs, and other water sources. If you have overflowing appliances or an indoor flood, shut off the power supply to the affected area until the problem is resolved. It’s also important to schedule regular whole-house plumbing inspections. This way, hidden leaks at the backs of appliances or behind your drywall don’t create electrical problems.

You don’t have to operate an appliance or device in a standing pool of water to get an electric shock. Sometimes, people get shocked by their gadgets simply when operating them in high-moisture conditions. If your windows and drywall are constantly covered in thick beads of condensation or if your indoor air often feels muggy, heavy, and oppressive, you may need additional humidity control.

9. Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

All newly built homes in Minnesota must have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) installed in all bathrooms, kitchens, crawlspaces, and finished basements to be considered “up to code.” Typically installed in areas where electrical circuits might come in contact with water, these outlets automatically interrupt electrical circuits upon detecting moisture. If you have an older home that has never had GFCIs put in, have them installed as soon as possible.

10. Encourage Everyone to Remain Vigilant

In a busy, bustling household, it’s not enough to be on the lookout for soot-covered outlets and frayed cords on your own. Get all residents on board with your electrical safety plan by encouraging residents to regularly check the condition of their electronics, electrical cords, outlets, and light switches. Advise residents on the dangers of “daisy chaining” extension cords, overloading outlets, and leaving unused outlets uncovered.

We’re committed to keeping residents of Shakopee, MN safe. We offer first-rate electrical installation, upgrade, and repair services. We also provide EV charger installation, whole-home surge protection, smoke alarms, and whole-home rewiring. To schedule an appointment or request a hassle-free quote, contact Finch Home Solutions now.

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