While you probably know not to put your finger in a socket (I wasn’t nearly as smart when I was younger), you may not be aware of all the electrical hazards in and around your home. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical fires are the fourth leading cause of fires in the home and result in more than 50,000 incidents each year. Given the potential risk and danger, you need to be very aware of what’s lurking in your home. Even though your home insurance policy may cover most resulting electrical fires, it’s always a better policy to not have a fire or injury in the first place.
The most critical part of your home’s electrical safety is the system itself. While you might think about appliances and other devices that use electricity in the home, the wiring behind the walls will prove to be an even more important factor. If you live in a modern home that was built with the most current technology and safety mechanisms engineered into the process, you are probably in pretty good shape. On the other hand, if you have an older home where the electrical system has not been upgraded, you might have some things to be concerned about. A good friend of mine lives in an older home that has knob and tube wiring, something that hasn’t been in common use for decades. However, since she has not made any changes or redesigns to her home, the wiring system can stay intact, even if it’s a less than ideal situation.
Unfortunately, older wiring systems are not always as safe as current methods. As a result, insurance companies may be somewhat reluctant to insure your older home with out-of-date wiring. If you are able to secure proper insurance, you might be faced with higher premiums due to the higher risk of fire. Additionally, current building codes mean that a claim in your house would likely trigger the building ordinance coverage, whereby you must pay to upgrade the system. There is coverage for this to a limited extent on the home insurance policy, but again, it is costly and there is often a limit to how much the insurance company will pay.
Apart from the fire dangers to your house itself, there’s also the danger to persons in the home from a fire. You also need to consider the basic concerns of being shocked or, worse, electrocuted. Even the most modern systems can sometimes still pose a danger or threat to those residing in your home – and I’m not only referring to small children. Bad wiring or defects in the wires can pose a threat to anyone in the house. In addition to the home’s basic electrical system, you also need to mindful of the electrical devices you are using. In today’s modern world, virtually everything that is considered a tool or necessity in the home is powered by electricity. We often take for granted their basic safety. However, you should never become complacent. Always inspect your devices before plugging them in and don’t take chances with anything that appears to be worn or frayed. The potential danger is definitely not worth the risk.
The Underwriters Laboratories’ Safety Smart website is a great resource for safety tips and it’s presented in a family-friendly format.