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Electrical Safety during Lockdown

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Added 25 April 2020

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The Barbados Light and Power processing plant at Spring Garden. (FILE)

Stay at home. Flatten the curve. Globally, these pleas are being made to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

In compliance, schools, businesses and even churches are closed, and people are studying, working and shopping remotely.

For some of us, this new way of life is significantly increasing our electrical consumption at home. More devices are being used and charged, more lights are switched on and the refrigerator is being opened more regularly.

So, here are some tips to help you remain electrically safe as you spend more time in your home environment during these unprecedented times.

Have you setting up a work station at home?

This may have required you to plug in a desktop system and a printer. Think about how you connected these devices. If they are set up directly in front of a wall plug, that’s excellent. But if you’re using your living room, sofa or bed to work you could pose a danger to yourself and others. So remember:

  • Extension cords are for temporary use. If you need to use one, unplug it after use and reconnect it the next time it is needed.
  • Speaking of extension cords, never place them under carpets, rugs or other flammable materials. The repeated friction can wear down the extension cord and eventually combust.
  • Instead of plugging your computer or laptop into an extension cord, use an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rated surge protector which is outfitted with a red light and a green light.
  • Be mindful of cords running across pathways in your home. Not only are they are a tripping hazard, but if yanked from the socket the cords, plugs and sockets can become damaged and become a fire hazard.
  • Laptops should not be placed directly on beds, sofas and other flammable surfaces and left there for a long period of time as they produce heat and can ignite. Place them on a non-combustible surface when charging and or out of use.

Are you using your handheld devices more?

While working remotely, no longer can you easily chat with the colleague who sits to your left or conveniently walk to your manager’s office down the hallway. Yet, the lines of communication must remain open between you and your colleagues.

Connectivity is more important now than ever, whether by WhatsApp messaging, calls and video or by Zoom Cloud Meetings. Thus, with more frequent usage, your devices will need to be charged more regularly. So don’t forget:

  • Like laptops, smart phones and tablets emit heat when connected, so while they are charging they should not be placed on beds, cushions and other combustible surfaces.
  • If more people are at home, chances are there may be more devices to be charged at the same time. Avoid overloading sockets and remember to unplug your charger when the device battery is full.
  • And where possible, avoid putting yourself in danger by placing your phone to your ear to listen to calls and voice notes while it is charging.

Are you in need of ways to keep children occupied while at home?

The demands of staying on top of your regular work responsibilities and supervising children indoors can be extremely overwhelming. To maintain their productivity, some parents may rely on electrical devices to help keep children occupied while others may still allow them to play outdoors, but whichever you choose, please bear the following in mind:

  • If you are home with toddlers, be sure to install socket covers over all unused electrical sockets. This will prevent your little one from pushing items into the socket and getting hurt while you are hard at work.
  • Make sure that older children who may be watching television, playing a console, using a tablet and or smartphone are not overloading the sockets in their bedrooms. Help them to abide by the tips shared above.
  • If you do allow your children to go outside to fly a kite, not only should they practice social distancing from other children outside, but their kites should also be flown a good social distance from any overhead powerlines.  (KW)

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