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Tips for Electrical Safety in the Kitchen

May 12, 2015

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During dinner parties, and family celebrations, the kitchen compels people to come together and socialize, whether there is a gourmet meal, baking in the oven or a simple plate of cheese and crackers on the counter. Throughout the week, the kitchen is usually a place of ongoing activity, with food preparation, sitting down for meals, or grabbing a snack, this gives the refrigerator and microwave a workout. Clearly, the kitchen is the center of activity in many homes, which helps explain why so many accidents, and about 50% of all fires take place there.

Since the kitchen is such an active place in most people's homes, and a hotbed for accidents and fires, we thought that National Electrical Safety Month would be a good time to offer electrical safety tips for the kitchen.

Perhaps, some of the tips we offer may seem like common sense. However, the cause of most accidents really don't take people by surprise. Most accidents occur when people are in a rush, take shortcuts, or are not paying attention.

With repetition, you can improve your electrical safety care. Plus, along the way, we hope that you will learn a few things, as well.

Test all of the ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your kitchen. These outlets cut off the flow of electricity when they sense a problem, such as the presence of water. GFCIs can be a life saver in kitchens, where water is a continuous presence. Ideally, GFCIs should be checked every month; in practice, try to check yours twice a year.

Check the batteries in the smoke detector located closest to your kitchen. If possible, you should have a detector installed at least 10 feet away from the stove (to prevent false alarms).

Turn off a large appliance at the circuit breaker if you ever receive a shock, and not one from static electricity, but a full-blown shock. This can be a sign of a serious problem with the wiring, which should be inspected immediately by a licensed electrician.

Regardless of the presence of GFCIs, take the extra safeguard of keeping countertop appliances such as the coffee maker, toaster oven, food processor, and can opener at least several feet away from the sink.

Unplug countertop appliances when you're not using them. Yet again, this is just a precautionary step. Also, be sure to unplug appliances before you clean them.

Keep the cords of small appliances out of the way of any, and all heat sources so that they don't accidentally catch on fire. For the same reason, don't wrap a cord around an appliance until it has fully cooled down.

Keep your stove and oven free of grease, and food buildup to reduce the chance of fire. In addition, keep the stove and oven free and clear of paper and cloth, such as pot holders, dish towels, and paper towels.

Vacuum the coils at the base of your refrigerator on a regular basis. Dirt and dust balls can create a fire hazard.

Over time, and with repetition, electrical safety in the kitchen can become second nature. 

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