Electrical Safety

More than 2,400 children are treated in emergency rooms due to electrical shocks and burns every year as a result of tampering with electrical outlets. Installing child proof outlets, also called tamper resistant receptacles (TRR), provides an inexpensive, simple, and permanent solution for these accidents.

WHAT ARE CHILD PROOF OUTLETS?

Though child proof outlets appear identical to standard wall outlets, they are anything but. Spring-loaded receptacle cover plates protect electrical contacts, preventing the insertion of objects when unequal pressure is applied to the receptacle’s contact points.

HOW TO OPERATE A CHILD PROOF OUTLET

For adults who know how to properly operate a plug, using a childproof outlet is simple. These outlets do not require the strength or knowledge required to operate most other child proof devices. In order to insert a plug into the receptacle, simply apply equal pressure to both sides simultaneously (as you would normally do) which allows the receptacle’s cover plate to open. Never seen a child proof outlet? Visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International’s website for a virtual demonstration.

WHAT DO CHILDREN PUT IN ELECTRICAL OUTLETS?

Nearly one-third of accidents occur when a child inserts common household items into receptacles, 70 percent of them occurring when adults are present. Items that children insert into outlets can be found anywhere, and include:
  • Hairpins
  • Keys
  • Plugs
  • Paper clips and staples
  • Tools
  • Jewelry
  • Belt buckles
  • Nail files
  • Knives
  • And more

UPDATE YOUR HOME TO INCLUDE CHILD PROOF OUTLETS

For just a few dollars per outlet, pennies more than traditional receptacles, you can bring your home up to code and make it safer for your family by having child proof outlets installed. In fact, tamper proof receptacles have proven so effective that as of 2008 the National Electrical Code has required the installation of them in all new homes. Without child proof receptacles, your child is at risk of:

ELECTRICAL SHOCKS

Seven children per day, 2,400 children per year, will be injured by placing objects into electrical outlets.

ELECTRICAL BURNS

95 percent of injuries resulting from electrical outlets will involve burns. Though they range in severity, it is important to understand that burns are very serious in young children whose skin is thin and offers little resistance to electric flow or heat.

PRODUCTS TO AVOID

When selecting child proof outlets for your home, avoid those that require you to screw plugs in place, as they are not only inconvenient, but present a fire hazard. In addition, once outlets are installed, avoid the use of plastic plugs – your outlets are now tamper proof, and these items present a choking hazard to small children. To ensure safety through the proper installation of child proof receptacles in your home, contact a licensed, qualified professional at Inland Northwest Electric. Our technicians have the best interests of you and your family at heart.
Your electricity runs behind the scenes, inside the walls of your home, allowing you a great variety of modern creature comforts. However according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical problems are the largest cause of property damage in home structure fires across the U.S. In addition, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) identifies small appliances plugged into inadequate or improper home wring as the leading cause of accidental electrocutions. These safety hazards can be easily addressed and prevented with an electrical home inspection.

WHAT IS AN ELECTRICAL HOME INSPECTION?

An electrical home inspection provides a thorough examination of your entire electrical system, ensuring all electrical wires, systems, and components, such as appliances in your home, meet legal safety standards. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the code that all electricians operate under when examining your home, and defines the parameters for minimum standards across the United States. Upon completion of your electrical home inspection, a Inland Northwest Electric inspector will provide a detailed, prioritized, checklist including areas in need of immediate attention, recommendations for improvements, and potential upgrade possibilities.

The Electrical Safety Foundation recommends electrical home inspections:

  • When purchasing a home.
  • When a home is 40 years or older.
  • When adding an appliance.
  • When a home has had a major renovation.

An electrical home inspection is important for the safety of your home, offering peace of mind by:

  • Ensuring the safe operation of electrical components in your home.
  • Identifying common electrical mistakes made by contractors and previous DIY homeowners.
  • Recognizing outdated wiring such as aluminum or knob and tube.
  • Identifying electrical wiring and components that may have degraded over time.
  • Spotting over sized fuses or breakers that could lead to fire.
  • Allowing for the correction of fire and safety hazards.
  • Helping you save energy and reduce costs.
  • Meeting insurance risk assessment inspections requirements.
  • Letting you know the electrical in a new home is safe before you purchase it.

An electrical home inspection from Inland Northwest Electric covers:

  • Verification of proper light bulb wattage.
  • Switch and wall outlet operation and condition.
  • Shock or electrocution hazards.
  • Verification arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are operating properly.
  • A check of all safety and security lighting.
  • Confirmation of grounding systems.
  • Validation of appropriate surge protection.
  • Verification of the proper placement of smoke detectors.
  • Testing of smoke detectors.
  • Testing of carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspection of the electrical panel for appropriate labels, amps, and operation.
  • An examination of outdoor electrical systems.
  • A detailed, prioritized report on all areas of attention concerning the electrical system of your home.
The professionals at Inland Northwest Electric offer these inspections as part of every service call at no additional cost to you. Don’t wait, contact us today and ensure the safety of your home and family with an electrical home inspection from Inland Northwest Electric.
Are electrical surges and power loss to your computers keeping your employees and productivity down? Your computer circuits may be overloaded, causing your workers unnecessary stress and resulting in lost efficiency. Don’t fret – computer outages can be easily remedied with the help of dedicated computer circuits.

WHAT IS A DEDICATED COMPUTER CIRCUIT?

The circuits in your circuit box are protected by breakers and distribute electricity throughout your business. A dedicated computer circuit has its own circuit breaker in your business’s electrical box. This circuit and breaker are intended for use with only your computer systems. No other appliances or electrical equipment will be plugged into or utilize energy from this circuit, making it “dedicated” to your computers. Dedicated computer circuits ensure your computers are able to access the energy they need without overloading your system, losing power, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker. If you are adding new heavy duty computer equipment or simply adding additional outlets, you need new dedicated circuits.

The benefits of dedicated computer circuits include:

  • Increased productivity.
  • Reduced “electrical noise” from other appliances on shared circuits that result in damaging surges and fluctuations in power.
  • Reduced risk of electrical fires.

PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE

Without the installation of an appropriately sized dedicated circuit and circuit breaker, your computers could draw too much current, causing wiring to overheat and insulation around the wires to breakdown or melt, possibly resulting in a fire. The professional technicians at Inland Northwest Electric can determine the needs of your equipment, preventing safety hazards and protecting your business’s equipment and data with the proper selection and installation of computer circuits. Call Inland Northwest Electric today for the dedicated computer circuits your business needs. Our professional technicians are there to keep your business running smoothly and safely.

POWER SURGES AND SURGE PROTECTION

A power surge refers to an increase in voltage that substantially exceeds the standard designated flow of electricity — 120 volts. At a basic level, the wiring overheats and starts to burn. Homes, businesses, offices and other environments have an abundance of important and expensive electronic equipment or appliances, including personal computers, phones, fax machines, stereos, TVs, microwaves that can benefit from surge protection. Many of these items have circuitry or microchips that are overly sensitive to fluctuations in voltage. Even a slight surge or spike power surge can put a strain on the system, compromise its performance, or completely destroy it.

WHAT CAUSES POWER SURGES?

One of the most common reasons for power surges is the operation of heavy duty electrical devices. Refrigerators, air conditioners, and elevators are just a few appliances that require a significant amount of electricity to switch motors and compressors on and off. Toggling high-power electrical equipment and devices can create swift, fleeting demands for electricity, and disrupt the constant flow of voltage in the electrical system. The following sources can also cause of power surges:
  • Faulty electrical wiring
  • Down power lines
  • Problems with utility company’s lines, transformers and other components
  • Lighting also causes power surges but does not occur as frequently. Lighting may increase electrical pressure in wiring by millions of volts, overwhelming even the best surge protector.

SURGE PROTECTION RATINGS

Standard surge protection devices work by passing the electrical current from the electrical outlet to electronic and electrical devices plugged into the power strip. A surge or spike above the designated level causes the surge protector to automatically redirect the “extra” electricity into the grounding wire attached to the outlet, which returns the voltage to a normal level.

There are three ratings to look for when buying a surge protection product:

  • Clamping voltage: This rating advises consumers what voltage level cause the surge protector to pass electricity to the ground wire The lower the rating, the better the protection. The UL approve devices have three ratings: 330 V, 400 V and 500 V.
  • Energy absorption/dissipation: This rating tells you the device’s capacity to absorb excess electricity before it fails. A higher “joule” delivers greater protection. A protector 600 joules or higher provides good protection.
  • Response time: Choose a surge protector that has a response time of less than one nanosecond. The longer the response time the greater the exposure of your equipment to a power surge.

BUYING SURGE PROTECTORS

Simple surge protectors equipped with a breaker to trip the device are fine for standard electrical outlets. If you purchase one with an indicator light that can let you know it’s working properly.

Some other features to consider are:

  • Warranties
  • Automatic Warning Devices
  • 3-Line Protection
  • Power Shut Down Protection
  • Resettable Circuit Breaker
  • GFCI Protection
You can purchase specialized surge protectors with other types of connection, such as USB (computer use) or barrel connection for cable TV or phone-line input jack for phones.

WHOLE HOUSE SURGE PROTECTORS

A power surge can follow any wire into a home and threaten phone, fax, computers, televisions and other equipment. Many homeowners have a false assumption that surge protection is simply a matter of plugging their devices into a low-cost, multi-outlet surge suppressor. If you want to protect devices plugged into outlets anywhere in the home, install a whole home surge protection system. This protection must be hard-wired into the main electrical panel by a licensed electrician. Use smaller whole house surge protection for delicate circuitry, telephone and cable lines. Use the multi-outlet power strip surge protection as your backup to absorb any excess power that seeps through the primary protection.
GFCIs, or ground fault circuit interrupters, protect against the risk of electrical shock. Installing them provides an inexpensive solution to preventing incidents of shock, and offers the added bonus of bringing your home up to code.

WHAT IS A GFCI OUTLET?

GFCI outlets are used in areas like the kitchen, bathroom or garage where the risk of electrical shock is greater. They can be identified by the “test” and “reset” buttons located on the receptacle. These outlets help protect you from electrical hazards by monitoring the amount of electricity flowing in a circuit and tripping the circuit if an imbalance is detected. Once detected, the outlet stops the flow of electricity.

HOW TO OPERATE AND TEST A GFCI OUTLET

If your GFCI outlet stops the flow of power under normal operating conditions and it is safe, the GFCI can be manually reset by pressing the “reset” button to restore power. GFCIs are much more reliable than depending on the circuit breaker in your electrical box to trip and stop current flow, as they are sensitive to even small variations in current. In fact, they are designed to operate before electricity can affect your heartbeat. Because of this function, it is important to check all of the GFCI outlets in your home monthly.
  • Press the “test” button to see if they are operating properly.
  • Use a night light or other portable device that uses a minimal amount of electricity to ensure current is no longer flowing through the receptacle.
  • Press the “reset” button after confirming this to return power to the outlet.

WHERE ARE GFCI OUTLETS REQUIRED?

  • GFCIs have been required in homes since 1971, when they were mandated for use on the exterior of homes and for use with swimming pool equipment. There are many areas of your home where GFCI outlets are required to meet code, commonly in areas where the risk of electrical shock is increased due to possible exposure to risk factors such as water. GFCI outlets are required in:
    • Bathrooms since 1975.
    • Kitchens since 1987.
    • Laundry and utility sinks since 2005.
    • Wetbars since 1993.
    • Garages since 1978.
    • Crawlspaces and unfinished basements since 1990.
    • Your home’s exterior since 1973.
    • Spa and pool areas since 1968.
    • Limitations of GFCI receptacles
    GFCI outlets should not be used as receptacles for refrigerators, freezers, or other appliances, as they could trip without your knowledge. Many older homes have lacked GFCI outlets for quite some time, putting their occupants at increased risk of electrical shock. Don’t wait on installing these inexpensive, potentially life-saving devices. Contact Inland Northwest Electric today and protect yourself and your family with the addition of GFCI receptacles.

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