When the summer heat hits, here are some important safety tips to remember:
1) Never leave children or pets in your vehicle even if it’s for a short period of time- – the inside of a car can quickly reach temperatures of 120 degrees.
2) Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol as they can dehydrate you.
3) Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-coloured clothing. Avoid dark colours because they absorb the sun’s rays and will make you feel warmer.
4) Stay indoors if possible and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
5) Postpone outdoor games and activities during extreme temperature changes.
6) Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat to check on one another. Take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
7) Check on family, friends and neighbours who do not have air conditioning units and who spend their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
8) For those with no air conditioning, visit public places, like schools libraries, community centres and malls, for some relief during the warmest parts of the day.
9) Keep electrical safety in mind when selecting cooling equipment for your home. Have a qualified, licensed electrician install and service any electrical equipment in your home -avoid overloading your circuits.
Warm temperatures and your electrical system:
To help stay cool during the warm months, many of us turn to our Air Conditioners (AC) for some relief but a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that air conditioning equipment was involved in an estimated 7,800 reported home fires.
What causes these fires?
John Flanagan from Birnie Home Safe says these electrical fires can happen because for the following:
- Overuse of the Air Conditioner which causes the electrical equipment to heat up.
- Not properly maintaining the AC units
- Degraded electrical systems
- Poor Electrical Installations
Overuse: When those uncomfortably-hot and muggy days set in, most of us crank up the AC for some relief. But Flanagan says these units need a break to avoid overheating and electrical damage. “Set your thermostat to reasonable temperature so that it can cycle throughout the day… if the temperature is set too low then the AC will just continue to run.” Flanagan explains that if the AC is on all of the time, you can strain your electrical system especially if you have aged wiring.
Not properly maintaining the AC units: All mechanical and electrical equipment needs regular maintenance to ensure that the AC is running safely and correctly.
Do you have a central AC unit?
- Have your AC system maintained by a professional once a year.
- Change your filter monthly.
- Make sure that leaves, dirt, debris, and insects haven’t clogged your exterior unit.
Do you have a Portable Air Conditioner (PAC)?
- Keep the AC unit’s air filter clean.
- When installing a window unit, make sure it leans slightly outside to keep rain from dripping onto electrical parts.
- Never use an extension cord for an air conditioner. The AC’s electrical loads will cause the insulation of the extension cord to heat up and catch fire.
- Put the AC on its own electrical dedicated circuit. A Licensed Electrical Contractor will match the AC unit’s amperage with the right sized electrical wiring and circuit breaker.
- Do not run the AC unit power cord under a carpet or rug, through a doorway, or through a wall.
- Install fresh batteries in your smoke detector each year.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of fire.
According to the NFPA central units cause fewer fires than portable units.