Protecting Your Loved Ones From an Electrical Accident

Encourage caregivers to familiarize themselves with some basic tips to help maximize the safety of the seniors in their care while minimizing the risks associated with electricity. Electrical accidents are a leading cause of home fires every year.

Electrical fires are more common in older homes with aging electrical systems. Tips:

1. Verify that the home’s electrical system is in compliance with the most up to date electrical codes. Contact a licensed electrician to conduct a quick home electrical safety inspection. The electrician should determine the following:

The circuit breaker panel board should be properly labeled. When the power goes out in a specific section of the home, labels serve as a quick way to know which breaker to flip to restore power. The circuit breaker has a detection system designed to prevent fires.

Wall outlets should also include detection devices such as a ground fault circuit interrupters which can detect an imbalance or leakage of electrical currents that can cause lethal shock.

Let the electrician know if you’re noticing any of the following: frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers; a tingling feeling or slight shock when you touch an appliance; outlets and/or switches that are warm or make crackling, sizzling or buzzing noises; or flickering or dimming lights.

2. Make sure the home is properly lit. Install night lights near stairways, walkways and other areas to ensure they are illuminated to avoid tripping hazards. Lamps should be easily accessible in seating areas and in bedrooms. Make sure light bulbs are the appropriate wattages for night lights and lamps. Consider using fluorescent bulbs as they consume less energy.

3. Set calendar reminders to routinely check the performance of detection devices. You should replace smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old and replace batteries at least once a year.

4. Ensure that outlets and power cords are properly loaded. No more than two appliances should occupy a single outlet as overloaded outlets can easily overheat and start a fire. Also, check electrical cords for signs of damage and never run cords under rugs or carpets or pinch them under furniture, doors or windows.

5. Only use electric products that are certified by Underwriters Laboratories .The “UL” mark indicates that the product has been tested and approved for safety. Be cautious of counterfeit electrical products, which are often sold at deep-discount stores.

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The Orlando Senior Help Desk at the Jewish Pavilion (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues. www.OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org