VIDEO: Why You Should Never Stick a Knife in the Toaster (and 10 Other Electrical Safety Tips)

by Matt Schmitz and Lauren Leazenby
HomeServe Managing Editor Matt Schmitz eats a piece of toast at a kitchen counter while pushing the toaster over to HomeServe Editor Lauren Leazenby to offer her the other piece of toast, screen grab, video screen grab, thumbnail, video thumbnail, Lauren Leazenby, Matt Schmitz, toaster, toast, kitchen, kitchen counter, countertop, refrigerator, bread

You know it’s dangerous to stick a knife in the toaster … right? Some 400 people per year in the U.S. are electrocuted — and an oddly high number of those incidents are toaster-related. That’s in addition to more than 50,000 electrical fires each year in the U.S., resulting in 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries and well over a billion in property damage.

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Shocking as these statistics may be, most tragedies involving your home’s electrical system are avoidable.

Follow these 10 tips from Electrical Safety Foundation International, the National Fire Protection Association and University of Washington to avoid getting an unwanted jolt of reality:

  • Avoid overloading outlets.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage.
  • Only use extension cords on a temporary basis — and never to power space heaters, fans or major appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves and microwaves, which should be plugged directly into a wall.
  • Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors or windows.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance — such as a coffee maker, blow dryer or curling iron — at a time.
  • Make sure you use proper wattage for lamps and lighting fixtures.
  • Have arc-fault circuit interrupters — or AFCIs — installed in your home to shut off electricity when a potentially dangerous electrical arc is detected in your home’s wiring.
  • Install GFCIs — ground-fault circuit interrupters — to reduce the risk of shock from outlets inside the home prone to wetness (such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages and basements) and on all outdoor outlets.
  • Prevent electrical injuries to children by covering all outlets, making sure all wires are properly tucked away from reach — and be aware of small appliance hazards around bathtubs or pools.

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Call a professional electrician asap to inspect your home’s electrical system if you notice:

  • Frequent blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet

In the meantime, if your toast gets stuck, be sure to unplug the toaster and let it cool off, and then turn the appliance upside-down and shake your toast out over the plate — or just pop it out with the handy lever most toasters are equipped with these days.

Watch the video below for electrical-safety tips from our partners at HomeServe:

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