May is National Electrical Safety Month, and a time to raise awareness on steps that can be taken to reduce the number of electrically-related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property loss — at work and at home.
Did you know that the United States sees nearly 200 electrical-related fatalities per year, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And for every 13 electrical injuries, one worker dies due to an accident. At home, electrical fires claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more, according to the United States Fire Administration. Some of the fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.
Over the years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has helped hundreds of electrical workers in Kern County move forward after suffering injuries at work.
“Taking steps in advance can save you from an emergency situation,” said David Cohn, managing partner and personal injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Taking precautions can reduce risks, and keep your family and property safe. Really, electrical safety should be a year-round priority.”
Here are some tips on how to stay safe:
AT HOME & INDOORS
- Never repair electrical cords or equipment unless qualified and authorized. Cords that are frayed or damaged should be removed and replaced immediately, not spliced or taped.
- Don’t overload electric outlets.
- Don’t run cords under carpets or rug, and don’t tack or nail cords to walls or floors.
- Keep electric appliances and tools away from water. Remember that water and electricity do not mix.
- Minimize the use of extension cords and never plug two extension cords together.
- Use light bulbs that correspond with the recommended wattage on the fixture. Check the sticker on the fixture to determine the maximum wattage bulb to use.
- Unplug appliances before cleaning, and when not in use.
- Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) or extra protection. They automatically shut off power to the outlet, protecting you from electrical shock and preventing fires.
- When leaving laptop computers, iPads, and cell phones charging, have them on a solid surface such as a desk or countertop. Leaving them on a bed, couch or chair can cause them to overheat and catch the material on fire.
- Have a licensed electrician examine your electrical system every 10 years. All electrical work should be done by a licensed electrician who has first obtained a permit when required.
- Do not let children climb trees near power lines.
- Keep kites, model airplanes, and metallic balloons away from power lines.
- Avoid overhead and underground power lines when you use a ladder, work on the roof, clean a pool, prune trees or dig in the yard.
- Never touch a downed power line, or anything in contact with it. Assume any downed power line is energized. If you see a downed power line, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Call before you dig: Whether you’re a homeowner planting a tree or a contractor excavating a subdivision, you must call 8-1-1 at least two days before you dig. It’s free, it’s safe and it’s the law. A specialist may come to your location and identify underground lines for you.
- If an overhead wire falls across your vehicle while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, do not leave your vehicle. Warn people not to touch the vehicle or the wire. Call or ask someone to call the local electric utility company and emergency services.
For more information and safety tips, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International website at esfi.org.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.