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Energy Safety

What’s That Hissing Sound?

Unusual noises can indicate electrical problems

If you hear a hissing sound but you don’t have a cat, check your electricity.

Damaged wires and outlets can hiss when something’s wrong—just like a cat. But hissing electricity is much more dangerous than an angry feline. It can signal the potential for a deadly shock or an electrical fire.

National Fire Prevention Week, October 8–14 this year, is a perfect time to check your cords and outlets to prevent an electrical accident.

Here are some tips to follow for keeping your home safe:

1. When electrical cords are damaged, worn, cracked or corroded, the chances of fire or power surges increase significantly. Check for loose or improper connections, cracked wire insulation, chewed electrical wiring, or frayed appliance or electrical cords. Call a licensed electrician to fix wiring problems; electricity is not a do-it-yourself project.

2. It’s common sense: Avoid plugging anything into an electrical outlet that is too near a water source. Did you know that even plugging a cellphone into a charger too close to water can create a hazard? If it falls into a tub or sink, and you stick your hand in to retrieve it, you could get shocked.

3. Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? To douse electrical fires, which usually start because of faulty wires or outlets, you need one—and it needs to be the right one, the kind rated to put out electrical fires. Never throw water onto an electrical fire; it can electrocute you.

4. Childproof all electrical outlets within the reach of small children. Insert outlet covers where the prongs of an appliance go. That will prevent toddlers from sticking fingers and other objects into the sockets.

5. Cramming too many plugs into a power strip and plugging it into an outlet that’s not equipped for the load can cause the outlet to overheat and the circuit to trip. If you need more outlets, hire a licensed electrician to solve your problem.