Electrical Safety in Winter

From snowy mountains to palm trees by the beach, winter can look like a lot of different things to different people. In every type of climate, problems can arise with your electrical system. It’s important to be aware of these potential issues, especially if you’re putting more than normal pressure on your electronics and appliances.

Staying warm or keeping the lights on more than usual can create seasonally unique challenges and risks for every home.

We have some tips for you to follow no matter where you are wintering.

Electric Blanket Safety

Electric blankets are still popular, and cuter than ever. However, they still have risks and you need to be careful when using them.

We have another blog just about using electric blankets safely that you can read here. In general, remember to do these things to reduce the risk of burns or a fire from using an electric blanket:

  1. Check the age of the blanket as anything more than 10 years old should be replaced.
  2. Look closely at the cords for any fraying or chew marks from critters.
  3. Always store the blanket according to manufacturer’s instructions as folding can damage the internal wires.

While it might be tempting to sleep with the electric blanket on all night, this is not recommended.

Space Heaters and Other Warming Device Risks

Space heaters can be a necessity in colder weather, but they need to be used properly to avoid potential fires.

Here are some helpful tips to remember this season:

  • Give your space heaters room to breathe, keeping them away from combustible sources such as bed coverings and draperies. Always remember – never leave your space heater unattended!
  • Certain electronics (like space heaters!) can overload existing circuits in the home, causing extreme heating hazards in the wiring and breaker boxes. Verify the heater wattage and make sure existing electrical circuits are adequate for heater loads.

Heavy reliance on gas furnaces and fireplaces make it pertinent that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operational, up-to-date and in working order. Set calendar reminders to change batteries in these devices so that they are always operational.

Learn more about how carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors work in this article.

Electrical Cord Safety and More

Whether it’s snowing or the waves are crashing on the beach during your winter, winter is the time of year to celebrate holidays and put up festive lights.

Extension cords inside and outside the home for holiday decorations are always sources of danger. Try to refrain from using any non-grounded extension cords for holiday lighting to guarantee optimal operation of ground-fault protection.

We also have tips here for how to replace the bad bulb on a string of holiday lights.

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection via GFCI receptacles and breakers is necessary to prevent shocking hazards common in rainy or snowy conditions. Make sure ground-fault protection on required devices is working by testing monthly.

If your home can handle the power, consider adding outdoor heating pads to keep sidewalks free of ice and snow in the winter. We’ve got details on whether to use installed outdoor heating systems or seasonal versions in this article.

Power Surges

If you are in an area where the heat doesn’t drop but soars, it’s important to be mindful of power surges. Running the AC or refrigerator requires huge amounts of power, which make your home susceptible to surges. Lighting strikes and detective wiring can also lead to power surges. If you don’t have the proper protection, you could be left with a power outage or damaged electrical appliances.

There is a great deal more information about surge protection here and it’s something to be mindful of in all climates and seasons.

Mister Sparky places electrical safety first and foremost. Each season presents its own set of dangers. Wherever you might be, whatever the season, contact your local Mister Sparky to make sure your home is safe and sound.