Protecting Your Family From Electrical Shocks and Other Hazards

Protecting your family from electrical shocks, tripping hazards and house fires is easier than you think. Always put safety at the top of your to-do list.

Here are 10 simple ways to keep your family safe:

1- Inspect your outlets. loose-fitting plugs can surprise someone with a chock, or even start a fire. If your wall plate is broken, replace it so wires won't be exposed. Insert plastic safety caps into unused outlets if your family includes young children.

2- Make peace with plugs. If a plug does not comfortably fit into an outlet, don't force it. Try a different plug. Never remove the grounding pin (Third prong) so a three prong plug will fit into a two prong outlet.

3- Be careful with cords. They are not designed to last forever. Toss frayed or cracked cords. Move cords out from under the carpets or rugs, where they endure constant pounding that can rip them or wear them out, exposing you to fire from overheated wires.

4- Pack up extension cords. they are fine for connecting strands of holiday lights and for helping decorations reach plugs during Decembers. But come January 1, pack them up and store them. Extension cords are designed for temporary use.

5- Watch your wattage. The light bulbs in your lamps and overhead fixtures should match the specifications on those fixtures. A bulb with wattage that is to high can overheat.

6- Find no fault. Ground-fault circuit interrupters are a must in every outlet in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, basement, garage and outdoors. If water could touch electricity, you need Ground-fault circuit interrupters on every outlet in the room.

7- Fuss with your fuses. If you don't know whether your fuses are the right size for the circuit they are protecting, call an electrician.

8- Adjust Appliances. If a circuit trips every time you plug in your hair dryer, or if your coffee maker has ever chocked you when you plugged it in, you have faulty appliances or overloaded circuit. An electrician can identify and save your problem.

9- Upgrade the wiring. Faulty electrical wires start many fires. If you hear popping or sizzling sounds behind the walls, or if light switches feel hot, do not use those fixtures or switches until a licensed electrician has replaced them.

10- Get what you need. Unless you live in a brand-new house, you are probably electricity than the builder ever dreamed you would. Call an electrician to determine whether your home needs more electrical capacity.