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Electrical Safety
From the National Fire Safety Council, Inc.

Each year, there are around 40,000 residential fires in the United States due to electrical wiring problems, claiming more than 350 lives, causing thousands of injuries from shocks and burns, creating 2 billion dollars in personal property damage.

Lighting & Electrical Safety:
It is best to hire a professional to repair, replace or install anything electrical.  However, if you attempt a small job yourself, be knowledgeable and do it safely.

  • Make sure all electrical boxes, wiring, and outlets are up to code.
  • Turn off the power by flipping the breaker or removing the fuse circuit.
  • Use a wooden ladder on a sturdy surface.  Never use a metal ladder.
  • Follow all manufacturer's recommendations for installing and maintenance.
  • Check that all lights have the UL®, ETL®, CSA®, approved label.
  • Make sure that all bulbs are screwed in tightly.  Loose bulbs may overheat.
  • Inspect light fixtures (old & new) for:
      • Broken or cracked sockets
      • Frayed or bare wires
      • Loose connections
      • Loose or missing bulbs
  • Throw out or repair damaged lights.
  • Turn off lights before replacing bulbs.
  • Use proper wattage and voltage.
  • Keep outdoor spotlights well-ventilated and away from anything that can burn.
  • Check with your local utility company before digging outside to avoid buried cables.  By Iowa law you must contact "Iowa One Call" before you dig.  They will come out to your location and mark all of the utility lines on your property.  This is a free service. 
      • Iowa One Call  1-800-292-8989

Outlets:

  • Unplug appliances not in use.
  • Change 2-prong outlets to 3-prong grounded outlets or install GFCI's (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters).
  • Cover or cap unused outlets.
  • Replace missing or broken wall plates.
  • Keep all electrical devices clean and dust free.

Cords & Plugs:

  • Replace loose, frayed, or broken cords or plugs.  Loose fitting plugs can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Never pull on the cord to unplug an appliance.
  • Protect all electrical connections (inside and outside) from water.
  • Never run electrical or extension cords under rugs, carpets, furniture, or across doorways.
  • Never staple or nail through cords.  It could cause a shock or fire.
  • Make sure lights are used according to their instructions for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Never tuck in or lay anything on electrical blankets.  Unplug before falling asleep or when not in use.
  • Stop using an appliance that repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or gives off a shock.  Have it repaired or replaced.  Never repair electrical products yourself.
  • Complete warranty and product registration forms for recall notification.

Extension Cords:

  • Unplug and replace cords hot to the touch.
  • One extension cord should be used per item.
  • Use cords that have a rating the same or higher than the wattage of the product that will be used.
  • Extension cords are intended for temporary use.  Never use in replacement of permanent wiring.
  • Never use extension cords or portable heaters in bathrooms.
  • Make sure cords used outdoors are intended for outdoor use.
  • Keep children and pets away from all plugs, outlets, and cords.

Know what to do:
Everyone in the family should know where the electrical breaker box is and how to turn off the power in an emergency.

  • Water and Electricity are a deadly combination.  If an electrical appliance is dropped in water while it is plugged in or running, DO NOT touch it or the water.
      1. Turn off power to the outlet from the electrical breaker box.
      2. Unplug the appliance.  Drain the water.  Remove the appliance.
      3. Do not use the appliance until it has dried out and been checked by a repair person.
         
  • Electrical Fires can be extinguished by you only if everyone in the house is outside, the fire is small, and you have an exit behind you.  If you aren't sure, GET OUT!
      1. Unplug the item or interrupt power at the main switch.
      2. Call 911
      3. Use a multi-purpose fire extinguisher.
         
  • Power lines, poles transformers, and substations should be avoided.  Electricity can travel and injure without direct contact.
      1. Stay away.  Call your local utility company for help.
      2. The plastic tubing on power lines will not protect you.
      3. If a power line is touching your car, stay inside until help arrives, and do not touch anything that is wet or made of metal.
         


 

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