October is finally here! Time to stock up on sweet treats, then fill the yard and home with ghastly decorations. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be spooky!
Before lying in wait for those young ghosts, goblins and caped crusaders to invade your neighborhood demanding their treats, keep the following safety tips in mind to make sure the electrical elements in and around your home are ideally maintained to minimize risk.
Halloween means strings of decorative lights, fog machines, strobe and black lights, animatronics, electrically powered decorations and the list goes on. These things all add to the ambience, but they also create the added dangers of fire, electrocution and other nasty accidents. It is very important that you look for these potential dangers and eliminate them before you flip the switch.
As you unpack the cardboard boxes and plastic containers full of plastic skeletons, lighted pumpkins, and assorted “Boo factor” decorations, make sure you check them for electrical component issues/ Examine each of the decorations as you un-box them for frayed wires, burnt out lightbulbs and batteries that need replacing. Also, look for cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections that could cause a serious shock or start a fire. Discard damaged sets of lights or damaged props that can no longer be used safely. Use only lights that have been safety tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Look for the UL label on the box and on each string.
Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Don’t use electrical decorations or light strings on materials that could catch fire. Follow the use and care instructions that accompany your electrical decorations.
Make sure extension cords are in good condition. Use only UL-approved cords rated to carry the electrical load you will connect to them.
Keep electric cords out of high-traffic areas. PLEASE don’t staple or nail through light strings or electrical cords.
Fasten outdoor lights (use only lights rated for outdoor use) securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold light strings in place, not nails or tacks.
For added electric shock protection, outside cords should be plugged into outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets don’t have them. GFCIs protect you from electric shocks. Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician, call Kalin Seamens at RealTime Electrical Solutions on 469-475-5488 if you have any questions. Kalin will make sure that you are safe.
Now is a great time to replace the batteries in your smoke detector. While you’re at it, vacuum them and test each one after replacing the batteries.
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire. Always have at least one fire extinguisher available and know how to use it. In homes with small children or animals, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
Practice safety, use common sense and you’ll have a happy, accident-free Halloween! Enjoy the holiday and for any electrical issues or questions, give us a call at 469-475-5488.
As the father of a small child AND a master electrician, I know how to Baby-Proof your electrical outlets!
Of the nearly 5,500 people who suffered shocks and burns from electrical outlets last year, more than 2,400 of them were under the age of 17. Of those, countless injuries were caused when foreign objects like keys, paperclips, and hairpins were inserted into outlets.
Plastic plug-in inserts and wall plates with contact shutters are available for tamper resistance; however, these products ARE NOT UL-listed for safety/tamper resistance. One hundred percent of two to four year olds in a recent Temple University were able to remove a standard plastic outlet cap within ten seconds. Suffice it to say, I do not recommend those devices to my family and friends.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that Tamper Resistant Receptacles be installed in pediatric areas, so why would you use anything less effective for protecting your children in your own home?
Tamper Resistant Receptacles remain accessible and inconspicuous while offering a higher level of security than plastic outlet caps. TRRs look exactly like standard wall outlets, but the dangerous electrical contacts inside are shielded by receptacle cover plates. These plates stay closed until equal pressure is applied to both contact points at the same time, a maneuver your child will not be able to manage by simply inserting foreign objects into the outlet. Your master electrician will guide you through the product selection process, then quickly replace dangerous outlets with TRRs.
Day care centers, doctor’s offices, nursery schools and children’s play areas are replacing their high risk outlets with Tamper Resistant Receptacles. Call me and let me explain how cost effective this higher level of child safety can be. Kalin Seamans, Master Electrician 469-475-5488.