Winter in Minnesota means cold weather. Many stay warm by plugging in their electric blankets or portable heaters or curling up in front of the fire. However, keeping warm with electronics comes with increased electrical safety hazards. This is also a great time of year to check for damage to your existing electrical systems. Take these preventative measures to practice winter safety and protect yourself and your family from winter electrical safety hazards.
PURCHASING ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
Statistics show consumers purchase more electrical appliances in the winter than they do during the other seasons. A critical winter safety tip when it comes to electricity is paying attention to the products you buy. Follow these tips to avoid purchasing cheap and potentially dangerous electrical products:
- Only purchase products from high-quality stores, companies, and retailers.
- Don’t always go for the cheapest product. If it seems like you’re getting too much of a bargain, you probably are.
INSPECT ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
Start winter off strong by testing all your existing electrical appliances and equipment for damage. Watch for loose connections, tattered wires, and cords, and pinched or bent insulation on wires. Also, take note of cracked or overheated wires and other related signs of wiring damage. Check everything in your home including electrical heaters, smoke alarms, lighting, and electrical sockets. Furthermore, if you notice any signs of damage or excessive wear and tear, replace the appliance or equipment or have it repaired if possible.
ELECTRIC HEATERS SAFETY If you choose to keep warm in the winter with supplemental heaters, do it right — follow these winter electrical safety tips:
- Keep anything flammable away from the space heater front, including paper, drapes, pillows, and blankets.
- Supervise children around space heaters. Space heaters can be a burn or shock hazard. • Make sure the space heater plug is in good shape. A beaten-up plug can start fires.
- Do not run cords underneath area rugs; this can start a fire.
- Never fall asleep with your electric blanket on.
- Make sure the plug and cord are in good shape, otherwise it can pose a fire hazard. Do not cover your electric blanket with another blanket.
- Even if it’s comfortable to use both, the extra blanket can become a fire hazard.
WINTER POWER OUTAGES
Winter storms can cause prolonged power outages by weighing power lines down with ice, causing trees to fall into lines, or creating hazardous road conditions resulting in vehicle accidents with power poles. To safely weather a winter outage, you need to prepare and know what to do when a storm strikes. When the lights go out, you should first contact your utility company to inform them of the outage. McLeod Co-op Power can be reached 24 hours a day by calling (800) 927-5685. Once we are aware of an outage, we will immediately respond. Until the power comes back on, do all you can to keep your family comfortable.
Here are some tips on how to stay warm during a winter power outage:
- Stay inside, and dress warmly.
- Close off unneeded rooms and place draft blocks at the bottom of doors to minimize cold air entering the house.
- Be aware of the temperature in your home. Infants and elderly people are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.
- To protect your circuits and appliances, switch off lights and unplug appliances.