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Holiday Shopping Safety Tips to Protect Your Appliances

If your holiday wish list includes a new television, computer, washer or dryer or gaming console—take note. Safety may not be at the top of your list, but it’s the first thing you should think about when purchasing these items.

Protecting your big-ticket electronics is very important and it’s definitely something to consider when making a big purchase. Operating these items safely will protect your equipment and also your home.

Here are the top electrical safety tips to consider:

  • Unplug your electrical items by grasping the plug firmly rather than pulling the cord.
  • If needed, rearrange your furniture so there are enough electrical outlets available for your new appliances—without the use of extension cords. 
  • Check that your electrical items are certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 
  • You should never remove the third prong on an electrical appliance in order to make a three-prong plug fit into a two-prong outlet. 
  • Don’t place power cords or extension cords under carpets, rugs, furniture or in high traffic areas. 
  • You should never nail or staple the power cords or extension cords to the wall or the baseboard molding. 
  • Be sure to keep cords out reach of children and pets.
  • Keep liquids away from your electrical appliances since spills can result in dangerous shocks or fires. 
  • When deciding where to put your new electrical devices, make sure entertainment centers and computer workstations have enough space around them for ventilation. 
  • To help keep your appliances and cords in good condition, examine them regularly for damage. You should repair or dispose of any damaged appliances. 
  • If you receive any kind of shock from a large appliance or any electrical device, you should immediately stop using it and call an electrician to inspect it. 
  • Be sure to unplug your equipment when not in use to save energy and reduce the risk for shocks or fires. A power strip or surge protector can help turn off appliances when not in use. 
  • If an appliance releases any smoke or sparks, or if you feel a tingle or light shock when it’s on, stop using it. Be sure to discard and replace it or have it repaired by an authorized service provider. 

How to protect appliances from power surges:
Power surges are sudden and the increase in voltage can damage or destroy your electronics. A surge protector will work to protect your appliances against random spikes in electricity. The standard voltage in most U.S. homes is about 120 volts, if the voltage rises above that, a surge protector will come in handy. Consider plugging your computer, television, stereo, game consoles and other electronics into a surge protector.

When to use extension cords:
Please remember that extension cords are meant to provide a temporary solution for plugging in your electronic device—they should not be used as a long-term or permanent electrical circuit. Do not overload your extension cord by using it to power appliances beyond its capacity. If you plan to plug multiple appliances into a cord, add their wattages together to make sure the total doesn’t exceed the cord’s rating.

Do you know the difference between a surge protector and a power strip?
Surge protectors and power strips look similar but they have important differences. A surge protector will divert or suppress extra voltage caused by power surges and keep your appliances safe by helping protect your electronics from electrical spikes. A power strip only provides more outlets for a circuit and will not prevent damage from electrical spikes.

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