Avoid Common Summer Electrical Hazards

Posted on June 13, 2013

With warmer weather here to stay, many people are going to do whatever they can to seek solace from the heat.  But an increase in the number of air conditioners on at any given time and people engaging in water-based activities can pose electrical shock hazards that must be understood and overcome.  You can do so by consulting a few tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

This will be the time of the year that you try to get your money’s worth out of air conditioning, but you have to be careful if the unit breaks down.  Air conditioners and other large appliances contribute to one out of every five shock injuries, and you don’t want to fall prey to such circumstances.

So if you’re going to be fixing things up yourself, you should turn off power to the unit before you do anything.  Flicking the correct circuit breaker or fuse is essential to safety.  Once you’re able to verify that power has been cut to the air conditioning by using a circuit tester, make sure other persons in the home understand that they’re not to turn the power back on.  You can even put up a large sign near the fusebox explaining the danger.  And if you’re not comfortable in your ability to repair the unit safely, call a professional to fix the issue.

Ground fault circuit interrupters are a great thing to have around the house, especially in bathrooms or outdoors if you have a pool or your patio contains power outlets.  When a surge is imminent, these devices will cut power so that you electrocution can’t occur.

If you do have a swimming pool, you must keep all cords and appliances a sufficient distance from the water so that the shock risk is mitigated.  When power outlets aren’t being used, you should place covers over them so that water can’t seep in.  And when you exit a swimming pool, you need to give yourself ample time to dry before using any kind of electrical device.

One instant when you never want to be around a pool is during a storm.  Being near water greatly increases the risk that a bolt of lightning will strike you, a situation that the National Weather Service says kills one in ten people and leaves 70% with longterm side effects.  And you shouldn’t cut it close if a storm is imminent, as lightning can travel up to ten miles from its source.

Finally, understand what to do if water makes its way into your home because of a storm.  Hopefully you unplugged electronics prior to the storm so that the shock threat is decreased.  You don’t want to plug back in or otherwise turn on these items until your house has been properly dried out.

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