Everything we use on a daily basis runs on electricity. Laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs and other electronic devices and they all need to be plugged in regularly. Electrical fires happen because of in house wiring problems or appliance failure, it could also occur due to mistakes homeowners make like overloading electrical outlets/extension cords or being ignorant to frayed wires.
They are wires that have a nick or small area where the metal wire is exposed or has frayed insulation which is falling off or damaged due to over-heating. Sometimes, heavy usage can cause this insulation to fray or crack, or a wire being pulled across a sharp edge of a metal conduit or box. Rodents such as mice and squirrels may chew through a wires’ insulation exposing the bare metal wire too.
Dangers of Exposed Wiring.
- Damage to Equipment
Damaged and exposed wiring can cause serious electrical problems. When a wire is frayed, there is incorrect power flow which can create spikes of power that possess the potential to cause extensive damage. Electrical spikes and lack of adequate of power can severely damage electronics.
- Fire Hazards
Excess power, whether provided through spikes or poorly regulated power flow, causes heat damage to electronics. As the heat builds up in the device, it reaches a point where it can cause major fires that’s a threat to your home or offices.
- Injury and Death
Handling damaged and exposed wires while they receive power from the source can cause electric shock. Electric Shock can cause injuries like involuntary muscle reactions, muscle paralysis and physical shocks as burns. In extreme cases, one can be shocked to death.
How to prevent wires from fraying.
- Hold the plug when pulling out the cord and not the wire to prevent tear and wear.
- Hold wires in place – don’t keep the wires dangling to avoid being accidentally pulled or someone trip over them. Wires can be tacked to a wall or truncated.
- Keep wires away from water and heat – Water and heat can damage the insulation of the wire and turn it into a shock hazard
- Do not place wires under a carpet or rugs. This can cause overheating and will lead to a fire hazard.
- Stick to an allowable number of wattage. Too many connections is a fire hazard waiting to happen.
- If you have pets, don’t hide electrical wires behind furniture. Pets like to gnaw on things and you won’t be aware of any damage when they are hidden.
Overloading is plugging multiple devices on one extension lead. We often make the mistake of plugging many of the devices and appliances in our kitchen or bedroom all on one extension lead exposing our homes to the risk of fire. Overloading can not only cause fire hazards but an inconvenient power outage that can cause damage to your home appliances. Although there is a space to plug four appliances, it doesn’t mean it is always safe to do so.
Danger Signs of an Overloaded Extension.
Check regularly for these danger signs:
- Sparks or smoke coming from a plug or appliance.
- Colored wires inside extension leads.
- Damaged extensions lead.
- Melted plastic on appliance casings and extension leads.
How to avoid overloading your extensions
- Understand the ratings of appliances leads: You can see the rating of your extension leads on their back or bottom. Do not plug any items if they exceed the rating of the lead – for instance, if you have a 10A-rated extension lead, do not plug 4 3A (4 X 3A=12A > 10A) items.
- Never connect extension leads together: Combining extension leads puts additional stress on the sockets and fuses, it can cause them to overheat and start a fire when their safety fuses fail.
- Use an overload calculator: An overload calculator allows you to know whether or not you are exceeding the recommended load of an extension socket.
- Use a multi-way bar instead of block adapters: Many block adapters with blocks of plastic and too many sockets on them are not safe for use and not recommended to be used. They increase the risk of overload and fire.
- Install more sockets: If you regularly need to use an extension lead in a certain area of your house, you should ask a qualified electrician to install more sockets.
Do not attempt to make any changes to your electric appliances or fix faulty wiring. Instead, call a qualified electrician to fix any electrical problems in your home. Don’t forget, “electricity can be dangerous and can kill you”.