Be carefree while away, but don’t be careless
BEFORE HEADING OUT ON VACATION this summer—or anytime—add a few easy electrical safety chores to your to-do list to ensure a safer trip and pleasant homecoming.
Don’t think you’re fooling burglars if you leave a single light or two on for a whole vacation. When left on for extended periods, incandescent and even fluorescent bulbs can get very hot or make the fixture hot, creating a potential hazard. Consider investing in a motion-sensing outdoor lighting system and multiple programmable timers for interior lighting. Modern timers offer several settings, as well as a randomized setting, enabling you to create an illusion that different rooms are in use at different times.
Unplug all appliances and electronics that aren’t necessary while you’re gone. Leaving appliances plugged in increases the risk of something like an electrical fire that will go unnoticed. Power surges also can occur anytime, so unplug items like the coffee maker, toaster, televisions and home entertainment/ electronic systems. Unplugging them is one less worry from lightning strikes should an electrical storm blow in while you’re away.
Along the way
Keep your eyes open for electrical hazards as you travel to your destination—and once you arrive.
While driving, always remember to stay in the car if it strikes a utility pole. Power lines can fall and still be energized. If lines have fallen on or near your vehicle, the mere act of stepping from it can electrocute you. Warn others to stay back. Stay put until an electric utility responder tells you it’s safe to get out. If you come upon an accident involving power lines, warn those involved of the danger, and call 911.
Not every hotel room, condo and Airbnb practices electrical safety. When you check in, note overloaded outlets, extension cords in use, outlets that get too hot and the smell of overheated wires. Take precautions yourself. If conditions are too egregious, take the issues up with management to work out a solution. If management is unwilling or able to satisfy your concerns or refund your deposit, report them to authorities and move on down the road to a safer place.