Powerful message: Treat electricity with respect
BY ANGELA BROWN
News Staff When electricity is involved, carelessness can be deadly. North Glengarry Fire Chief Stephen Stewart stresses that people must be careful when they connect an electrical device to a temporary power source, such as an extension cord.
“Any time I see them I say: ‘That’s temporary. How long have you been working at that? Oh no, you need a plug.’”
Long-term use of an extension cord can put people themselves and their property at risk.
Mr. Stewart advises people to find a permanent solution to a problem rather than look for a quick fix.
As an example, he said individuals shouldn’t run a dehumidifier all summer long when the machine is connected to an extension cord. Instead, they should call an electrician to install a permanent electrical outlet close to where the dehumidifier is located.
He also cautions people against covering an extension cord with a carpet, especially if the cord is warm to the touch and if it is connect- ed to a device that uses a lot of power.
It’s also important to consider preventative maintenance for all electrical systems.
Individuals may buy a new house with wiring that was installed by a certified electrician and was approved by the Electrical Safety Authority, that enforces the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. But if the owners don’t follow safe practices themselves, their home still can be at risk of fire.
The authority’s engineering and program development director Nansy Hanna recommends residents regularly check for potential electrical safety hazards that can exist around their home. They should also replace frayed extension cords with new ones, and “choose the right extension cord for the job.”
“There are special extension cords rated for use with appliances, like heaters and air conditioners, and also ones specifically for outdoor use,” she noted.
Residents should never remove the third prong on a cord because it needs to be there to prevent shocks. They should replace any broken or missing switchplate covers right away, and keep extension cords away from heat and water.
Owners considering a home renovation that includes electrical work should always hire a licenced electrical contractor. For a list of licenced electricians and for more information on electrical home safety tips, visit esasafe.com
The Ontario Electrical Safety Code requires that receptacles in bedrooms have arc fault circuit protection capability.
Ms. Hanna explains arc faults are caused by “damaged, overheated, or stressed electrical wiring or devices, and can occur when older wires become frayed or cracked, or when a nail or screw damages a wire behind a wall.”
Outlets that provide such protection detect the defect and disconnect the power source.
Ms. Hanna wants to raise awareness that a new code requirement, anticipated to come into effect in May, 2016, will oblige home owners also to have such safeguards throughout their residences.