Read these 16 Wire Safety Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Wire Management tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you need to fill a large and/or irregular shaped opening with fire sealant, fire barrier foam might be the fire protection solution. This is a fire sealant that consists of two parts that foam up when mixed. The foam then expands to fill the opening with an effective fire sealant compound.
When installing wires, the danger of shock or fire is just one of the potential hazards you're dealing with. Excess wire installed for the possibility of extending a line needs to be done neatly. For applications where you have just one or two lines to manage, Consider Cable Turtle electric wire organizers. These convenient devices are a perfect way to temporarily store lengths of cord that are part of a project. Simply wind the excess wire around the open Cable Turtle organizer, close the shell, and the extra wire is neatly stored, but can be reeled out in a snap.
As the name implies, heat shrink tubing is placed over the cable or cables to be covered, then heat is applied which causes the tubing to shrink around the cable. To get the best results safely, you should use a specially-made heat gun. Rotate the work to get an even shrinkage. You can also shrink the tubing in an oven. Avoid using open flame, which will give inconsistent results and possibly char the tubing or the cable's insulation.
Looking for fire safety and cable organization tips? To enhance fire protection, creating fire seals around cables or pipes that degrade in fire is easily done using silicon or latex fire caulk. This material can be applied just like regular caulk, between a cable and the hole it runs through, but when fire burns away the wire or line, the caulk expands to fill the hole. Remember that ordinary silicon caulk will not expand in a fire. You need to use specially formulated fire caulk to help prevent the spread of fires.
Outlets near hot tubs and spas should be covered when not in use and only used when thoroughly dry. Any cords should be kept away from the hot tub or spa and never handled with wet hands. If an electrical device falls into the water, never reach in to retrieve. Rather, you should make sure the object is completely severed from an electrical power source first. New outlets are available that offer waterproof protection and are easily installed with the proper tools and safety equipment. Make sure that whatever outlets are near the water have ground fault interrupters in them.
When you use electrical tape in any home wiring application, make sure you are using it correctly. There are all kinds of standard electrical tape but remember that it is only suitable for not more than 600V and not more than 80°C (176°F). There is aelectrical tape available for matching Heat Shrink Tubing and Cable Ties - you can also use it to terminate braided sleeving.
Fire safety and cable organization:
Another innovation in fire protection is the fire barrier pillow, which can be placed against or alongside a larger hole in a wall. Like other fire sealants, the fire barrier pillow expands when heated to close of the hole, but unlike sealants, the fire barrier pillow can be moved and shifted as needed and is excellent for temporary applications.
Although this fire protection device isn't common knowledge to most homeowners, an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) can save lives and property by preventing arc flashes. An arc flash occurs when an electrical current jumps between two conductors. A fire protection device like an AFCI is often installed on newer homes, so it is likelier for older homes to catch fire. Sometimes, a surge protector isn't capable of preventing arc flashes and fires still occur. The AFCI is easily installed by a licensed electrician and will replace the common circuit breakers in the electrical panel box. Installing the proper fire protection device in an older home can mean the difference between life and death, as a large majority of fires begin in bedrooms. Many electricians and insurance companies agree that an AFCI is the best defense against electrical household fires.
Wires that get in the way can cause safety problems. During your next installation, use cable clips, saddles, clamps and wire organizers. Clips can hold one or two wires and guide them along a desired route unobtrusively, and keep your wires neat and tidy. They can provide a temporary solution until you can get necessary conduits or cable raceways installed.
To prevent arc flashes, fires and electric shock, you should never attempt to force a plug into an ill-fitting outlet. Both outlets that are too big and too small pose dangers. When the outlet is too big for the prongs of a plug, the empty space causes an arc flash, meaning the electrical current jumps between the two conductive parts. This arc flash is unpredictable and can leap out of the outlet or cause an intense heat wave that melts nearby objects. In some foreign countries, an adaptor may be needed for electrical cords to fit in an outlet. Plugs with damaged or bent prongs should be discarded and replaced.
Proper planting and trimming of trees is not only a way to maintain aesthetic outdoor beauty, it is a way to maintain proper electrical service. Trees that are planted too close together or near power lines may result in power outages or even fallen cords, which can be deadly. Also, limbs on trees should be properly pruned for the same reason. Many local codes have suggestions for tree planting and care within city limits. It is best to let professionals trim limbs that are close to power lines, rather than doing it yourself.
Silicone fire rated foam is an inexpensive protection device that seals off large areas fire could easily travel through. Used primarily by the construction industry, the foam is mixed with two parts, creating a thick, fire-resistant material that can fill any gap or hole to form a compression seal. Not only is it used as a fire protection device, this fire rated foam can also work as a barrier to smoke, noxious fumes, and water. An added feature is its ability to aid in the soundproofing of rooms. Should the foam become damaged, it is easily repairable and doesn't need to be removed.
It is best to assume that any wire you happen upon is energized and capable of shocking you. Never attempt to pick up a fallen wire to move it out the way or repair it. Instead, call the police and notify them, as innocent bystanders such as children could harm themselves. If a cable falls on your car while you are inside of it, do not get out. Doing so would ground you and possibly cause a lethal shock. However, if your car catches fire, you must escape quickly. The proper way to get out is to jump directly out without touching any of the car's metal. The best method for handling a fallen cable on the car is to back it up or drive it forward enough to break contact with it.
Although this should be common knowledge, many people are surprised to hear that most Christmas light cords are lined in lead. There are often warnings on the boxes of these contaminated lights, but many people have overlooked them in the past. Because of the risk of certain birth defects, pregnant women should not handle lead Christmas tree lights. In addition to pregnant women, children should avoid handling them. Older boxes of lights may not contain a lead warning, but that does not mean they are lead-free. The same goes for new boxes without warnings. Anyone that handles Christmas lights should immediately wash their hands to avoid accidental consumption by anyone they touch. The levels of lead found in each strand of lights are not clear, but the lead is there for a purpose. Lead-based PVC covering can help to prevent fires.
A wire loom is an inexpensive and simple way to protect or color code wires. It is merely a flexible tube for a wire or a group of wires to be threaded through. A slit down the middle of the loom makes it easy to install cords. There are many different sizes and materials available for wire looms, from common PVC to mil spec Polytetrafluoroethylene tubing. Wire loom materials are available that are specially made for abrasion resistance, extreme temperatures and corrosive chemicals. However, looms can also be simply used to bundle groups of wires for a tidier workspace. Whatever the wire looms are used for, they are relatively inexpensive to be bought in bulk.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are millions of extension cords being used by Americans that are faulty. Many extension cords, particularly ones bought in discount stores, were made overseas and do not meet proper safety standards. Although many recalls have been issued for some of these cords in the last decade, many are still being used in homes across the country. The holidays pose a particular danger, as many people are using Christmas lights and extension cords with bad wiring, flawed connections and improper grounding. Before using any cords, thoroughly inspect the product for legitimate safety seals and serial numbers. If these things are missing, or if the wire appears defective in any way, discard and replace the cord.