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Caring for a Family Member's Safety

Caring for older family members and those with health problems is a big responsibility. To help caregivers as they look out for family member safety, Safe Electricity offers the following electrical safety checklist:

  • Electrical outlets – Replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed. If an outlet is not working or warm to the touch, it may be an indicator of unsafe wiring. Have an electrician Caregiverscheck it out. To reduce risk of an electrical fire, also check that outlets are not overloaded with adapters and too many appliance plugs.

  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – Make sure GFCIs are installed in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, workshop, basement, garage, and outdoor outlets. GFCIs help protect against electrical shock. Use the test and reset button monthly to ensure they are working properly.

  • Plugs – Check that grounding pins (third prongs) have not been removed to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet.

  • Cords – Make sure cords are not frayed or cracked, placed under rugs, tightly wrapped around any object, or located in high traffic areas. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors, or other objects.

  • Extension cords – These are not intended as permanent household wiring, so ensure they are used only on a temporary basis only. Help avoid clutter by keeping paths free of electrical or extension cords that may cause tripping. If you find a loved one needs more electrical outlets, talk to an electrician about installing more so that extension cords are not used on a long-term basis.

  • Light bulbs – Check the wattage to make sure light bulbs match the fixture requirements. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage ratings than recommended on the fixture. Make sure they are screwed in securely so they do not overheat.

  • Electric blankets and space heaters – Ensure that electric blanket power cords are not being pinched or crushed, that nothing is on top of them which would create a fire hazard, and that they are loosely folded or rolled when stored to prevent damage. Make sure that heating devices, such as space heaters, are not placed near flammable items and not in locations where they can be easily knocked over. Also, they should never be left on overnight or after leaving a room.

  • Appliances/Electronics – If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given anyone an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Look for cracks or damage in wiring and connectors. Use surge protectors to protect expensive electronics. Make sure appliances and electronics are placed in dry locations. If an appliance has been water damaged, be sure to replace it. 

  • Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) – Consider having AFCIs installed in the home. An AFCI is installed in a circuit breaker and monitors the flow of electricity throughout your home. If the AFCI detects any abnormality, it will shut the system off, preventing a fire.

  • Electrical wiring - Check for loose wall receptacles, wires, or lighting fixtures. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls. If light switches are hot to the touch or lights spark and flicker, immediately shut them off at the circuit breaker and contact a qualified electrician to make repairs.

  • Circuit breakers/fuses – Check that circuit breakers are working properly. Fuses should be properly rated for the circuit they are protecting.  

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