Electrical fires and electrical shocks are responsible for thousands of fatalities each year in North America alone, and Chilliwack is not exempt from electrical accidents.

Faulty wiring, outdated systems, and old panels are the most common culprits, but they can all be prevented if property owners learn and embrace simple safety rules.

No city or town is spared from the likelihood of an electricity-related accident. In the city of Chilliwack, tragedy is averted by following these safety guidelines:

1 – Electrical Outlets

  • Replace damaged and old receptacles with a polarized three-wire variety. Call a licensed electrician to ensure there’s proper grounding to prevent fire and shock hazards. Avoid bending or cutting the ground pin of a three-pronged plug. Although it appears useless, it protects everyone from the likelihood of a severe shock because of a malfunctioning appliance.
  • Install plastic safety inserts in unused outlets to protect children and pets from electrical shock.
  • Modifying the wide prong of a polarized plug to make it fit on a non-polarized receptacle is a big NO. Replacing the receptacle is the only viable solution.
  • Plugs should always match receptacles, i.e., three-wire receptacles require three-pronged plugs. If you’re using the standard polarized plugs, you must pair it with polarized receptacles.

2 – Circuit Breakers

  • You don’t just replace a blown fuse or reset a tripped circuit breaker. If you’re not up to the task, call an electrician to figure out the cause of the overload.
  • It’s never a good idea to replace an old fuse with another one over the amperage rating of the existing circuit.
  • Some homeowners do this, but a sane person will never replace a fuse with a material that conducts electricity, i.e., coin.
  • Avoid using heat-producing appliances and equipment (high amperage) simultaneously in the same circuit since this will most likely lead to an overload.

3 – Lighting

  • Like fuses on circuits, you never should install a light bulb that exceeds the wattage limit noted on a fixture.
  • Lamps must be placed on a level surface. See to it that the lampshade is secure to prevent the bulb from breaking in case the lamp gets knocked over or stumbles.
  • Never put any combustible material near a lamp, especially curtains, paper, and drape fabrics.

4 – Power Lines

  • You’re never meant to contact a power line. Even if there’s no warning sign, touching a power line may lead to severe injury or death due to electric shock.
  • No metal tools and equipment must be near the vicinity of power lines for safety reasons.
  • Report a downed power line right away and put warning signs within the area to warn passers-by.

5 – Appliances

  • Buy appliances with proof of testing from an independent testing laboratory. This shows that the product passes industry safety standards.
  • Heat-producing appliances like the microwave, coffee machine, irons, and space heaters must be placed at least three feet away from curtains, bedding, furniture, and other things that’ll burn quickly.
  • See to it that the detachable cords for popcorn poppers, bread makers, and coffee machines must be rated no less than the wattage rating of the appliance.
  • Provide ample space for computers, TVs, and stereo components. These appliances are prone to overheating without proper airflow in their immediate surrounding.
  • Practice the habit of unplugging small appliances when you’re not using them.

6 – Outdoor Electrical System

  • Electrical appliances are never meant for outdoor use, especially in the rain. If your purpose is to use an appliance outdoors, buy one designed and labeled as weatherproof.
  • Don’t forget to use GFCI-protected receptacles when you’re using an appliance outdoors.
  • Avoid running extension cords in high traffic areas, lawns, and driveways. The power source for your outdoor lighting must come from a weatherproof wiring system.
  • All outdoor electrical installations must use a combination of GFCI receptacles and weatherproof fixtures.

What’s Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)?

The device works by monitoring the amount of current that flows through a circuit. It’ll cut the electricity off once it detects an unsafe flow of current. GFCIs are sophisticated enough to react to an abnormal flow of current in a circuit and are quicker than a circuit breaker or fuse. The device effectively protects a person from a possible extended electrical shock, thereby preventing severe injury or death.

7 – Electrical Cords

  • Although you’ve been doing it, you should know that extension cords shouldn’t be run across doorways and under the carpets for apparent reasons.
  • Extension cords aren’t meant to be stapled, tacked, or nailed to a building surface.
  • All electrical cords, regardless of type, must be a distance away from high traffic areas and travel paths, especially those frequented by children.
  • Cracked, damaged, and frayed electrical cord must be replaced immediately.

Signs of an Electrical Issue

Unless you’re a licensed electrician, you shouldn’t attempt to fix an electrical problem at home. The least you can do is learn how to spot an issue before it leads to a fire or electric shock. These are the usual signs:

  • Blown fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • Outlets show discoloration
  • Tingling sensation when you touch an electrical appliance
  • Burning smell from an appliance or wire
  • Flickering lights

Electrical repair or installation is not a do-it-yourself job considering the risks of starting a fire and electrocution. Your job is to spot the signs and call the electrician right away. Talk to our experienced electrical technicians at PTX Electric to get a quote on your electrical work.