Home Appliances and Electrical Safety

Home Appliances and Electrical Safety
  • Opening Intro -

    Flickering home lights are certainly an indication of an electrical system problem. Left unaddressed and you may soon find yourself evacuating the home and calling the fire department.


The cause may not be apparent at first, but on closer inspection one or more home appliances may be to blame. If not repaired or replaced at once, you may put your family and home at risk. Do not delay taking action: lives and property may be at risk.

1. Identify and unplug. Examine each of your appliances to detect the cause of the flickering lights. Breaks in cords or plugs are an indication that a particular appliance is at fault. Immediately disconnect the appliance and have it repaired or dispose of it properly.

2. Use only approved appliances. That toaster you purchased new at the flea market may not pass safety inspection. A sure sign of its deficiency is the absence of an Underwriters Laboratories label, the indication you need that an appliance has been tested and meets accepted safety standards. UL labels have been used for decades, a trusted source for appliance testing.

3. Follow manufacturer directions. Most appliances work intuitively, but users sometimes stretch the use parameters, putting themselves and others in harm’s way. You may know not to stick a fork down a toaster to retrieve burnt bread when the appliance is plugged in. Just the same, do not operate any appliance or small equipment apart from the manufacturer’s guidelines or intent.

4. Unplug and put away. Some small appliances such as hair dryers, curling irons and shavers should be unplugged and put away when not in use. These appliances heat up very fast and have some of the hottest operating temperatures. If inadvertently turned on, such as when your cat jumps up on a counter and brushes up against it or your youngest child fiddles with the switch, it can make contact with a flammable surface and start a fire.

5. Water and electricity don’t mix. You are not likely to start a fire if your toaster falls into a sink full of water. Instead, you will face a potential dangerous situation, electrical shock, if an appliance makes contact with water. Appliances should be kept away from water with the cord made as short as possible to still do its job without risk of falling in.

Home Considerations

Hire only a licensed and qualified electrician to handle significant repairs. You may be able to replace a cord yourself, but if the flickering lights persist, professional intervention is needed.

Avoid using any appliance that gives you a tingling feeling when touched. Other signs of problems include a burning smell or rubber-like odor emitting from an appliance, discolored wall outlets or switches and sparks coming from the same outlet. Seek assistance at once; call for emergency help if you cannot contain the problem.

More than 400 deaths and at least 1,200 injuries are attributed to home electrical fires each year according to FEMA. Avoid becoming a statistic by managing home appliance problems at once.


Electrical Safety Foundation International: Appliance Safety Tips — http://esfi.org/index.cfm/page/Appliance-Safety-Tips/cdid/11228/pid/10272

FEMA: Electrical Home Fire Safety — http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/electrical.shtm

Author Information

Most of us don’t think about electrical safety concerns, because people like Barry Atkins are on the job. Barry writes for PAT Testers, a UK-based website selling all manner of equipment including the Seaward Primetest 100. You can follow Barry on Google+.


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