Working from home has its perks. Less commuting leads to more family time and cleaner air, among them.
And there are more people than ever working from home now because of the COVID-19 pandemic and California’s Stay-at-Home order.
However, with the perks come some potential safety risks, including electrical hazards. From overloaded outlets to overused extension cords, the risks can be significant in home offices or for those working anywhere within the home.
“No matter where you work, it’s always most important to be safe,” said Andrew Martinez, vice president of Safety, Security and Business Resiliency at Southern California Edison. “But when working from home, you should be particularly careful in properly using your electronics, outlets and extension cords. Overstressed extension cords, for example, can deteriorate and create shock and fire hazards. And they should only be used temporarily anyway.”
Annually, about 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords, leading to an average of about 50 fatalities and at least 270 injuries, according to the Electric Safety Foundation International.
And, with children also home more than ever because of the COVID-19 crisis, there are increased risks for them too, especially involving electrical outlets since an average of 2,400 children each year are treated for injuries caused by outlets.
To avoid such injuries, Martinez, a strong advocate of child safety as a parent and participant in Edison International’s “Agents of Safety” performances, urges plastic outlet covers, safety shutters and child tamper-resistant outlets as well as ground fault circuit interrupter outlets in areas where water is present.
“We want our customers to feel safe around electricity and an important part of that is educating our children as early as possible,” said Martinez, noting the videos and games SCE offers that engage kids while teaching them electrical safety.
SCE offers additional electrical safety tips on working and parenting from home:
- Avoid overloading outlets and plug only one high-wattage electronic or appliance into an outlet. Use surge protectors when possible.
- Regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage and replace the devices, accessories or cords if they are frayed or worn.
- Keep papers, folders and other combustible items at least three feet away from heat sources like space heaters.
- Do not plug large appliances or space heaters and fans into an extension cord.
- Never “daisy chain” by plugging extension cords or power strips into one another.
- Keep your electronics, including cellphones and chargers, away from the kitchen and any source of moisture.
- Play far away from trees that are touching or near power lines.
- Stay away from downed power lines as well as wet grass, water and anything in contact with those lines and call 911.
- Never run cords under rugs, carpet, doors or windows because of the damage it can cause the tripping hazards presented by it.
- Make sure that hair curlers, curling irons and blow dryers are not dangling within easy reach of curious kids.
- Unplug appliances when not in use to save energy and minimize the risk of shock or fire.
- Never disable smoke detectors, test them monthly and change their batteries at least every six months.
For more on safety, go to sce.com/staysafe.
This article was written by Paul Netter, Energized by Edison Writer.