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Electrical Safety While Working from Home

Are you still working or spending more time at home? Be sure to always plug into power safely and ensure #electricalcords do not become tripping hazards. Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors, or windows. Follow these electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International to keep you and your home safe from #electrical hazards.

Get the full details on this downloadable pdf.

We Honor Our Veterans

Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served. For one day, we stand united in respect for you, our veterans.

This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in our country’s service and was originally called Armistice Day. It fell on Nov. 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. However, in 1954, the holiday was changed to “Veterans Day” in order to account for all veterans in all wars, according to Military.com.

Today we continue to celebrate the day as Veterans Day, still recognizing the original tie with November 11. That means Veterans Day is on the same day every year — November 11 — regardless of on which day of the week it falls. When the date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, government officials or businesses may recognize it on both the official day and the following Monday.

This year Little Sparkie did its part to honor Veterans Day by lending our bucket truck to the City of Mt. Airy to use in hanging flags in honor of Veterans Day!

Here’s a Military.com video about five additional things you may not know about Veterans Day.

Fire Prevention Week™ is October 4-10, 2020!

 

This year’s Fire Prevention Week’s campaign theme is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!TMThe campaign’s goal is to educate everyone about the simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves, and those around them, safe in the kitchen.

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.  Keep kids safe and avoid accidents and injuries by keeping them three feet away from the stove while you are cooking.

Other basic kitchen fire safety guidelines include:

  1. Keep appliances serviced, clean, and in good repair.
  2. Unplug electric appliances when not in use. This saves power by reducing the amount of energy a device consumes even when it’s not being used, and protects against overheating and power surges that can damage equipment.
  3. Install a smoke detector near, but not in the kitchen.
  4. Use caution when lighting the pilot light or burner on a gas stove.
  5. Don’t use metal in the microwave.
  6. Don’t overfill pots or pans with oil or grease.

Additional fire prevention guidelines include:

  • Avoid “over-fusing” circuits…the modern-day version of putting a penny in a screw-in fuse socket to keep the fuse from blowing. If a breaker is tripping, but will allow you to reset it, there is a problem on the circuit. It may be overloaded. Replacing the breaker with one of a higher amperage rating is a potential fire hazard. Enlist the help of a licensed electrician.
  • If your lights flicker, or appliances start working and then stop, whether they are plugged in or hardwired, or you hear crackling or sizzling noises at a switch, receptacle, or inside a wall…stop using the equipment, turn off the breaker, and call a licensed electrician. There may be arcing on the circuit, which is a potential fire hazard.

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage.

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire.

Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

When you need a trusted licensed Electrician, Call on Little Sparkie Electric!

 

 

Ensure that your business or home is wired for the best connections

With so many people working virtually, and kids getting their classes online, it is more important than ever for your business or home to have structured wiring.

Structured wiring refers to a whole-office or home network of audio, video, data, telephone, television, or security signals. Structured wiring begins with a structured networking panel (SNP), which accepts cables from outside providers and distributes the signals directly to each office, area, or room. These direct lines are called “home runs” and they ensure the strongest possible connection and signal to each of your electronic devices.

In spite of what you may read online, this is not a DIY project. Hire a reputable, licensed electrician to design and install a comprehensive system that will meet all your needs. Many businesses are remodeling to adjust to the distancing and other requirements brought about by the coronavirus.  We can assist with the initial design to retrofit your business or home during your remodel. We can also fit a wiring system into an existing business.

“When I managed the Regus Business Center in Frederick, I had a customer that needed a remote TV TV_Studioset-up with special electrical connections in his office.

“I immediately recommended Little Sparkie Electric because I needed someone I could trust. It was a complex job that also required making connections to electrical boxes in other parts of the building and coordinating with the building manager.

“Catherine knew what she was doing – I didn’t have to worry about anything – she did a wonderful job for my client.” — Jean Wright, former General Manager, Regus Business Centers

Create ambiance with outdoor lighting

This is a great time of year to build that patio or deck and make it an enticing evening gathering spot with perfect lighting. If you have a restaurant, think dining al fresco.  As you plan your outdoor space, think about how the space will be used, and plan the lighting around that.  As you envision your lighting, remember the importance of light layering in getting the right effect, and being able to create spaces for different uses.

You want to get enough light but not overdo it. The trick to a well-lit patio is directing the light just where you need it and having the right controls.  Overhead lighting, be it string lights, outdoor pendants, or wall sconces, can create the ambiance of an Italian piazza, among other possibilities…which are almost endless.  If you plan to include fans, many outdoor fans also come with lights, or they can be added.

Consider low to the ground lighting for steps or curbs to focus light where it’s needed without glare.

Plan to hire a licensed electrician upfront to:

  • Check that your outdoor connections are safe and secure. You also may need to add additional outdoor receptacles or a dedicated circuit to your electrical panel, which should definitely be done by a licensed electrician.
  • Ensure proper installation that won’t overload existing circuits.
  • Recommend the most cost-efficient options.

Summer storms need a generator back-up plan

These past few months, we have learned the importance of having back-up plans.

Now, even as many shuttered businesses reopen, we have another factor to consider: the summer storm season!

An above-average hurricane season (which runs between June 1 and November 30) has been predicted by Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane researchers and AccuWeather.

The CSU Tropical Meteorology project team predicts 16 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season. The research models indicate as many as eight storms will become hurricanes and will reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson category 3 or higher). Both hurricanes and fierce summer storms are important reasons to have a backup generator!

For homeowners, a permanently installed standby generator protects your home automatically. It runs on natural gas or liquid propane (LP) fuel and sits outside just like a central air conditioning unit. A standby, or backup, generator delivers power directly to your home’s electrical system, supplying your entire home or just the most essential items when the utility power goes out.

Potentially devastating losses for businesses

The potential loss a business faces from power failure can be devastating. From losing customers and data to spoiled refrigerated inventories, the costs are often substantial. Generac offers a broad range of commercial options, making backup power a reality for thousands of businesses. Generac’s commercial line features affordable generators with LP, natural gas, diesel fuel, or dual-fuel, for both single- and three-phase systems.

On the industrial front, there are mission- critical businesses that are legally required to have automatic standby power, such as hospitals. Data centers, 911 call centers, and so forth, cannot operate at all without backup power. Generac’s range of industrial solutions has been proven dependable in the most severe power outage situations.

Little Sparkie Electric has been selling, installing, and servicing Generac generators for many years, including large commercial generators that have a rating up to 150 kW. Catherine Nazarene, Managing Member, is a Generac factory trained Commercial Level II Certified technician. We also install manual transfer switches for portable generators.

If you already have a generator, here is a quick reminder that they should be serviced twice a year; a well-maintained generator lasts much longer!

If you are interested in a generator for your home or business, call us at 301-606-5181 or e-mail Catherine at [email protected]

For a free homeowner’s guide to preparing for hurricanes, click here: https://www.generac.com/hurricane-prep

Fire extinguisher

Ways to Keep Your Workers Safe

These days, when we speak of workplace safety, we usually think of personal protective equipment, like face masks, gloves, etc. and social distancing.

However, as employees gradually return to workplaces, we also need to protect them from fire, electrical hazards, dust explosions and accidents.

An important protection against workplace fires is fire extinguishers.  They need to be in a handy spot where they can put out or control a fire until the fire department arrives.  Fire extinguishers must have the seal of an independent testing laboratory, and be labelled with standard symbols for the kind of fires it can extinguish:

There are four classes of fire extinguishers – A, B, C and D – and each class can put out a different type of fire.

  • Class A extinguishers will put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as wood and paperFire extinguisher
  • Class B extinguishers are for use on flammable liquids like grease, gas and oil
  • Class C extinguishers are suitable for use only on electrically energized fires
  • Class D extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals

Multipurpose extinguishers can be used on different types of fires and will be labeled with more than one class, like A-B, B-C
or A-B-C.

Extension cords can be another workplace hazard.  They’re fine for a lamp or small appliance, but they should be a temporary fix, because over time extension cords can deteriorate and become an electrical shock, fire, or tripping hazard.  For more extension cord safety rules, click here.

Depending on your business, anti-dust equipment is a must.  For example, coal, cement, asbestos, grain, flour, wood, metals leather, rubber, silica, and so on, can produce hazardous dusts. Concentrated dust can be combustible and cause fires or explosions. It can also be hard on your staff, causing rashes, asthma, eye and nose damage, and even cancer.

An exhaust ventilation system, dilution ventilation or vacuum can be used.  Protective equipment and clothing can also be used to keep your employees safe.

It’s easy to forget to unplug electrical equipment, but it’s also important to do, especially prior to a storm or heavy rain.  If you lose power during a storm or flood, switch off electrical equipment and then unplug it. Be sure to grab the plug and not the cord to prevent damage to the wiring.

And remember, before you enter a flooded business or home, have a licensed electrician and utility personnel check to make sure the building is safe from shock and electrocution risks.

 

 

Flooding Can Wipe Out Your Electrical System

After a largely nonexistent winter, the spring storm season is upon us. Mid-Maryland homes and businesses have seen some devastating floods in recent years. Downtown and other parts of Frederick have flooded several times, and Ellicott City saw devastating floods two years in a row in 2017 and 2018.

Unfortunately, most electrical components that have been underwater for even a brief time need to be replaced. This includes wiring, circuit breaker panels, and fuse boxes, also receptacles, switches, and light fixtures. Once mineral deposits and resultant corrosion get a foothold, the damage keeps on going. Corroded electrical equipment can present a significant fire hazard.

Before you enter a flooded business or home, have a licensed electrician and utility personnel check to make sure the building is safe from shock and electrocution risks. This could also involve removing the electric meter or circuit breaker panel. Although you may be comfortable replacing receptacles, switches, and lights, these are only part of a larger project after a flood. The serving electric utility’s further assistance is also often needed. The utilities will disconnect power in an emergency, but they generally require an electrical permit and an inspection to reconnect power to a building. Safety always must come first.

Frequently, recovering from a flood includes replacing drywall, sheetrock, ceiling tiles, insulation, and flooring, in addition to the electrical infrastructure. Remember, it’s easier to rewire a building or a home when walls and ceilings are open. Gutting and rebuilding also gives you the opportunity to add more needed receptacles and put them in new locations, for example higher on the walls, above the 100-year flood level. This way you can cut down on future repairs, as we’ve seen our fair share of “100-year” weather events. Higher receptacles are also handy for setting up charging stations for all of your employees’ devices. We can install receptacles that include USB ports for device chargers.

Replacing receptacles and switches can also allow you to upgrade to more sophisticated technology that can be controlled anywhere with a tablet or smartphone. Don’t forget energy-saving occupancy sensors and timers. Several platforms and systems are currently available.

It might also be a good time to consider installing a permanent standby or backup generator to protect against power outages.

But it all starts with a phone call to a qualified, licensed electrician and Generac factory-certified generator technician. Little Sparkie Electric stands ready to help in spite of the Coronavirus. We’ll take all necessary precautions to keep you, your employees, and your family safe, while we help make your home or workplace safe.

 

 

 

NFPA urges home fire safety caution amid pandemic

As the public largely remains at home in response to COVID-19, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges added caution around home fire safety in the days and weeks ahead.

According to NFPA, cooking, heating, and electrical equipment are among the leading causes of home fires year-round. “We already see the majority of fires happening in homes,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “As people spend much more time at home and engage in activities that significantly contribute to the home fire problem, it’s critical that they recognize where potential hazards exist and what they can do to prevent fires.”

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and is responsible for nearly half (49 percent) of all reported home fires involving cooking equipment.

Moreover, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, meaning that home cooking fires occur most often when people aren’t keeping a close eye on what they’re cooking.

“As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, there’s greater potential for distracted cooking,” said Carli.

NFPA statistic show that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires, resulting in an average of 52,050 home fires each year. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment is involved in an annual average of 35,100 home fires.

With everyone at home, people may be using the same space heateroutlets to charge phones, laptops and other digital equipment, which also presents a fire hazard.

With these concerns in mind, NFPA reminds the public to use best practices for staying fire-safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Make sure all handles are turned inward, away from where someone can grab a hot handle or tip a pan over.
  • Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, refrain from using the stove or stovetop.
  • If you have young children in your home, create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

Heating

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet (one meter) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot (one meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.

Electrical

  • When charging smartphones and other digital devices, only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed or on a couch.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use.
  • Use a light bulb with the right number of watts. There should be a sticker that indicates the right number of watts.

In addition, smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. Test them monthly to make sure they’re working. NFPA also strongly encourages households develop and practice a home escape plan to ensure that everyone knows what to do in a fire and can escape quickly and safely.

(To this NFPA article we also would add that you should have one or two fire extinguishers in your home.)

For a wealth of NFPA resources and information on home fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org/Public-Education.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

 

Don’t forget lighting when selling your home!

Hiring an electrician may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning to sell your home.  But as Redfin’s  Ryan Smith notes in this article, you don’t want rooms that are poorly lit or lights that don’t work!

Trying to sell a poorly lit home

“You want to show your home in the best light, so take the time to really gauge the quality of your lighting by closing your curtains/blinds and looking at each room as though you’re a potential homebuyer. Make a note of any rooms that are poorly lit or just seem dark and then call an electrician so that you can have some additional lighting installed. 

“Even worse than a poorly lit room, however, is when the lights don’t work at all. Sometimes the light bulb is just burnt out, while other times the socket itself is in need of repair. Consider calling an electrician before you begin showing your home to make sure it’s shining its brightest like the one above. Potential buyers (and your bank account) will thank you for the investment.”

Read Ryan’s full article here.