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Are You Using Your Home Electrical Appliances Safely?

One evening in August, Charlotte gets out of the shower and is about to use her hairdryer. At that moment, her host mother Reiko enters the bathroom.

Are You Using Your Home Electrical Appliances Safely?

Reiko

Hold it Charlotte! It is not very smart to try and insert a plug into an electrical socket with wet hands!

Charlotte

But my hands are only slightly damp.

Reiko

It is better not to take any chances. Even with home electrical appliances, there is some risk of electrical shock.

Charlotte

I understand what you are saying, but I just tried to insert the plug unconsciously. My hands are not that wet. It would only take a moment, and I reckon it would be alright.

Reiko

If your skin is damp, your body’s electrical resistance becomes lower, and that makes it easier to get a shock. You should pay particular attention to that fact during the summer months. People tend to sweat a lot, and there also tends to be much more exposed skin during summer.

Charlotte

I will try and pay closer attention to what I am doing in the future. That reminds me, I noticed that all of the electrical appliances in this household that are used in the vicinity of water have been earthed. The washing machine has, the washlet in the toilet has, the dishwasher has, and so has the microwave oven.

Reiko

Yes, we thought we should do that in order to minimize the risk of electrical shock if the unexpected were to occur and there was a leakage of current.

Charlotte

In the course of my daily life, I must admit that I have never given much thought to whether or not I use home electrical appliances safely.

Reiko

Hold on Charlotte, I also notice that the cord of your hair dryer is all twisted, you would be better off untwisting it before attempting to use it.

Charlotte

It looks like I am in trouble again.

Reiko

I am very sorry to harp on about such matters. To tell you the truth, when I once tried to use a hairdryer with a twisted cord myself, I got a great fright when sparks started to fly out from the base of it.

Charlotte

That sounds scary! Obviously, the cord had severed somewhere, and the power running through it had subsequently caused a short circuit.

Reiko

That is correct. What I want to say is that it doesn’t really matter how safe home electrical appliances supposedly are. If you use them incorrectly, then there is the risk of electrical shock and of ignition occurring.

Having finished drying her hair, Charlotte joins Reiko in the living room and they resume their discussion.

Charlotte

When using home electrical appliances, what other matters should we be wary of?

Reiko

There are a variety. For example, you shouldn’t overload your power sockets by connecting too many cables.

Charlotte

That was one I was aware of. There are also limits to the amount of power that power sockets and multi-plugs can handle. If they are asked to handle volumes of power in excess of their ratings, there is the danger that they will heat up and burst into flames.

Reiko

Correct, and that is really scary if it happens. Another thing I should point out is not to forget to clean around the power sockets occasionally. If dust manages to work its way between a socket and a plug and then attracts some moisture, it can cause a fire if just a little power is passed through the connection.

Charlotte

And I would suggest that it is particularly important to clean around TVs, refrigerators and washing machines, etc., because once they have been plugged in, they tend to remain so for long periods of time.

Reiko

That is correct. The other thing I should mention is not plugging in cords if they are still tied up or twisted in some way. In particular, it is necessary to be careful with hairdryers and electrical water pots that use rather a lot of power. Furthermore, you should make sure that power cords are not being impinged by furniture or squeezed by doors.

Charlotte

I see. I believe that a fair few people are probably guilty of doing one or other of those things.

Reiko

Yes, I agree. Every so often, I think it might be necessary that we consider the home electrical appliances that make our lives so convenient, and confirm for ourselves whether or not we are actually using them safely.

Charlotte

I think I’ll make a point of cleaning around all the power sockets tomorrow!

Reiko

Thank you. That would be a great help!