Find electrical hazards before they find you

You can’t see all of the electrical hazards in your home unless you go looking for them. Here are five invisible hazards that your family should avoid:

1. Overload. Especially if your home is older, it might not have the capacity to handle all of today’s energy-intensive gadgets. When your home was built, for example, it didn’t have to handle phone chargers, electric treadmills or even automatic coffee pots. Invite an electrician over to evaluate your home and upgrade its electrical capacity.

2. Old circuit breaker boxes. A box that feels hot is probably faulty and needs replacing.

3. Constantly breaking breakers. It’s annoying when your hairdryer stops working mid-blow dry or you trip a breaker whenever you plug in your curling iron and clothes iron at the same time. But those are warning signs that you’re overloading your circuits. Call an electrician.

4. An outdated fire extinguisher. The life-saving devices don’t come with an expiration date, but that doesn’t mean it will work when you need it. Fire extinguishers last for between five and 15 years. Check the pressure gauge on yours every months. Only if the needle is in the green area is it good to go.

5. Hot outlets. Regularly touch them. Warm or hot outlets could signal an electrical overload or wiring that’ melting. While you’re at it, have an electrician switch out your old outlets for those with GFCIs, which will shut off in case of a hazard.