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ELECTRICAL HAZARDS SAFER HOME

The Most Dangerous Electrical Hazards in Your Home

Our homes are pulsing with electricity. Electricity is in our walls, our roofs and our appliances. What we don’t often consider is the fatal consequences that can occur when the power from these various sources leak out. There have been countless tragedies that could have been avoided if only the household had been more aware. Spend the next 2 minutes to become aware of electrical hazards in your home and how to minimise risk to yourself and your family.

Electric Blankets: Very Risky {Avoid Entirely}

Electric Blankets provide heat directly to where it’s needed most, your body. Unlike air conditioning, there is no need to heat the air and have the air transfer through a room, losing heat along the way. Electric Blankets are a source of a comfort, emulating sleeping snug against another human being, being calming on the mind and soothing which is conducive to a good night’s rest. Deceptively, these appliances are also among the riskiest and most dangerous of home appliances to have. Yes, an electric blanket is an appliance. Doesn’t sound so good now does it? 

Fire Hazard

In July 2019 Daniel De Gabrielle was almost burnt alive in Melbourne while asleep. He tucked himself into a the electric blanket and used multiple electric blankets to get extra comfy.

In the middle of the night one of the blankets short circuited and set the bed ablaze.

Mr De Gabrielle spent two weeks in hospital with second degree burns to 20% of his body.

Frightening Electric Blanket Statistics

While aged electric blankets have caused thousands of fires in homes, many fires are caused by faulty blankets as well. Some blankets become faulty because they have not been used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some blankets are faulty from the factory and some become faulty with age.

According to Merseyside Fire and Rescue , in tests carried out on more than 50,000 blankets, a whopping 70% failed safety tests and 40% were no longer suitable for use.

Top 17 Ways To Prevent Electric Blanket Hazards

  1. Don’t have an electric blanket
  2. If you do buy an electric blanket, always buy new not used
  3. Look for the European Safety mark BEAB which conforms to the latest standards
  4. Ensure your blanket has an overheating protection system
  5. Ensure that the control switch hangs freely and the cable is not under the blanket or twisted
  6. Never use the multi socket adapter with an electric blanket
  7. Never ever use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket
  8. Switch off the blankets and unplug before going to bed
  9. Store the blankets flat without folding them
  10. Ensure the electric blanket remains dry
  11. Regularly check that there are no signs of damage to the blanket or cable
  12. Ensure the electric blanket has maintenance every 3 years
  13. Check the plug of the electric blanket is not damaged
  14. Dispose of old electric blankets
  15. Do not leave on for more than 30 minutes
  16. Ensure there are no scorch marks
  17. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Overheating / Stroke

Among the most serious and life-threatening among heat-related illnesses is heat stroke.

In a paper published by McGill University,  two cases of fatal heat stroke caused by overheating from electric blankets in winter are discussed in depth.

The first case was a 41 year old man man who was found unresponsive in bed on an electric blanket. The man’s wife who shared the same bed with him was found unconscious. The wife’s axillary temperature was 40 degrees C when she was admitted to the hospital. She fully recovered after medical treatment. The husband was pronounced dead at scene.

The other case was a 13 year old girl who was found deceased in her bed on an electric blanket, with a temperature of 41 degrees Celsius.

overheat

Miscarriage and Spontaneous Abortion Linked to Electric Blankets

A 1998 study from Yale University concluded that mothers who use electric blankets during their pregnancy had an increased risk of miscarriage. If it is absolutely necessary to use an electric blanket, it is recommended to heat the bed before sleep and not using it while being in the bed.

Light Bulbs: Moderate Risk {Use Safely}

There are, without a doubt, lights in every room in every house. However, many incidents of property damage, burns, injuries and even deaths have occurred from light bulbs.

Light Bulb Fires

Riley Jackson, a six year old boy in Derbyshire, died from fire related burns and carbon monoxide toxicity. The boy was rushed to hospital where he later passed away, after a halogen light bulb had set a light shade on fire.

Halogen light bulbs especially are a bigger risk than modern LED bulbs due to the high temperatures they produce. They are particularly dangerous when making contact with flammable clothes and materials.

In Riley’s case, it was reported that the bedside lamp had fallen over and the heat had set the lamp shade alight.

Light Fixtures

Incandescent and halogen lights generate a great deal of heat. Using a light bulb with higher wattage than specified may cause the light fixture itself to overheat. Overheating light fixtures may damage the socket which holds the light bulb and even cause a fire.

Enclosed light fixtures are especially hazardous, especially when the wrong wattage of light is being used. The heat cannot dissipate quickly enough and may cause a fire.

Brittle Wiring

If the wattage of your light bulb exceeds the specifications of the light fitting, the heat can cause the wiring to become brittle. If brittle wires are running along the inside of the ceiling or inside walls, electrical fires become a high probability. If you suspect this to be the case, it would be recommended to have a qualified electrician inspect your property.

wiring hazard

Prevention

  1. Use LED light’s instead of Halogen Lights. LED lights do not produce as much heat as halogen lights. Surprisingly Halogen lights can reach temperatures of 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Keep the area around lamps and bulbs clear of combustible materials.
  3. Place lamps on a stable surface
  4. Use only the recommended wattage of light bulb as specified for your light fixture

Water, Appliances and Sockets: High Risk

Electrocution

A Russian woman tragically died in April of 2019 after suffering electrocution while using her phone during a bath.

The 20 year old woman was discovered deceased by her mother.

Her phone which was on charge, fell into the bathtub.

Keep appliances and electronics away from showers and bathrooms. You should designate charging areas in the home which are out of reach of children and far away from water.

Power Points and Water

Water is a natural and excellent conductor of electricity. This makes the combination of water and electricity all the more dangerous in areas like the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. There are laws which regulate the positions of power points and their distances from water areas.

There are zones in kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and toilets which prevent any power outlets from existing in them. 

However, with modern day tech, charging cables have increased in length. Even the common hair dryer can easily stretch to the bath tub in most homes while being plugged in.

Prevent Electrocution

    1. Keep electricity far away from water. Always keep electrical appliances away from any water and moisture. Whether it’s on or off, if a plugged-in appliance falls – or is accidentally dropped – into water, do not attempt to retrieve or unplug it. Go immediately to your home’s switch board and turn off the main power to your entire home. Once that’s done, the appliance can be safely unplugged and removed from the water. Once the device has dried thoroughly, have an electrician evaluate whether or not it’s fit for continued use.
    2. Are your appliances tripping the power? Pay attention to what your appliances are telling you. When an appliance repeatedly trips the power in your home or  blows a fuse, or gives you shocks, it should never be ignored – these are signs that something is wrong. Prevent further – and possibly more dangerous – malfunctions from occurring by immediately unplugging the appliance and discontinuing use until a professional electrician can inspect it, make repairs, and ultimately declare the appliance safe.
    3. Have an electrician ensure that you’re using the right size circuit breakers and fuses. If fuses and circuit breakers aren’t the right size and wattage rating to match the specifications of their circuits, they will fail when you need them the most.
    4. Protect kids with power outlet covers. Outlet covers prevent babies and small children from sticking their fingers and other objects into unoccupied receptacles, protecting them against shock and electrocution. You can either use the plug-in type, or opt for special child safety wall plates, which feature built-in, retractable covers that automatically snap back into place when outlets aren’t in use.
    5. Avoid cube taps and other outlet-stretching devices. Cubes taps – those little boxes that allow you to plug several appliances into a single outlet – may seem like a major convenience, but they can actually put you on the fast track to circuit overload, overheated wiring, and even fire. If you absolutely must use one, do the math before plugging in. Know the maximum power demand that the cube-tapped receptacle can handle, and be certain that the collective pull (power requirement) of the devices you’re plugging into it doesn’t exceed that rating.
    6. Replace missing or broken wall plates. They’re not just there for the looks – wall plates also protect your fingers from making contact with the electrical wiring behind them. Broken wall plates, or the absence of them altogether, can be especially dangerous in the dark – when trying to locate a switch by touch, you may end up being shocked or electrocuted if you miss the mark and end up hitting live wires instead.

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