August 2, 2008
My best friend had someone break into her house a few months back. It got me worried that my family could be at risk as well. So I did some research on crime and home invasion and here’s what I found:
1. 1 out of every 5 homes will have a burglary, fire or carbon monoxide poisoning over the next 6 years.
2. 9 out of 10 convicted burglars agreed that they would avoid a house protected by an alarm system.
3. Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
4. Violent crime rose by double-digit percentages in cities across the country over the last two years.
5. A Home Security System makes your home 3 times less likely to be burglarized.
How long until your family or mine falls into one of these statistics?
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February 12, 2007
Before beginning any DIY electrical wiring project, you need to give your project some thought. You need to plan out what you want and what you are going to do. You also need to ensure you have the proper permits, locates, materials, testers and tools.
Let’s start with the planning process. Sometimes it helps to draw this out on a piece of paper and othertimes it is more helpful to mark everything on the wall or ceiling. Where are you going to get your power from? Is there enough room in the breaker box to install another circuit breaker? There are lots of questions that need to be answered before you begin your project.
Are you going to do any digging? If so, you need to schedule a locate before you begin digging. To schedule a locate, call 811 and you will be connected to your local locator service. These locates typically need to be scheduled atleast 2 business days in advance.
Electrical permits – I have learned that most homeowners skip this step. All electrical work needs an electrical permit. Some areas will allow homeowners to complete all electrical wiring on their own homes. Others areas have restrictions on what a homeowner can do. For example, here in Montana, homeowners are not permitted to install their own electrical service. These rules and regulations vary from state to state and even town to town. You need to check with your local building codes department before beginning any DIY electrical wiring project.
Directions and Instructions – You need to read, follow and understand all instructions and safety warnings that are included with all tools and devices you are going to use on your project.
Workspace – Be sure your workspace is clear of all debris and anything else that could be a hazard before beginning work.
Electricity and water do not mix – NEVER stand in water, on wet floors, or work in wet clothing while working with electricity. Place dry boards or rubber mats on the floor to stand on if you are forced to work on wet floors. If you are working outside in the rain or somehow you get wet while working on your electrical wiring project, change into dry clothes before working with live electricity or around breaker boxes and fuse panels.
Turn off the power – Always turn off the power before working on any electrical circuit or in a breaker box or fuse panel. Once you turn off the power, verify the power is off with a voltage-tester before touching any wires or electrical devices. An easy way to determine which breaker or fuse controls the receptacle that you plan to work on is to plug a radio into the receptacle. Now flip through the breakers or remove the fuses until you hear the radio stop. When the radio quits working, that is the correct breaker or fuse.
Breaker boxes and fuse panels – Use extreme caution when working in or around breaker boxes and fuse panels. Remember, everything down the center is live 240 volts. Sometimes, when turning off the main breaker, the wires that feed the panel are still live. Breaker boxes and fuse panels are not really the place for inexperienced people to be working in or around.
Use the right tool for the job – When working with electricity it is helpful to use tools with insulated handles. Always wear shoes with rubber or non-conductive soles. A good pair of leather gloves and safety glasses are helpful as well.
Completing your project – Before you can consider your DIY electrical wiring project to be complete, you need to test everything, clean up and get a final inspection.
Know your limititations – Do not rush through your project. When we hurry, we occasionally forget to think things through and mistakes happen. If you do not feel comfortable with what you are doing, stop and leave it to a licensed electrician.
February 8, 2007
I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by Silvio Marcacci on behalf of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) regarding a national consumer safety campaign that was launched at the beginning of this year. The CGA is a coalition of 1,400 members and member organizations who make up the underground utility line and damage prevention industry.
This year CGA is launching 811, the new, national “Call Before You Dig” number to professional excavators and DIY homeowners in an effort to save lives and protect underground utility lines.
811 has been issued by the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate the confusion of multiple “Call Before You Dig” numbers across the country. Now, one phone call to 811 will quickly and easily begin the process of getting underground utility lines marked. The 811 call process is efficient, and callers will be routed to their local utilities who will mark all underground utility lines for free.
How does it work?
One easy phone call to 811 starts the process to get your underground utility lines marked for free. When you call 811 from anywhere in the country, your call will be routed to your local One Call Center. Your local One Call Center operators will ask you for the location of your digging job and route your call to affected utility companies. Your utility companies will then send a professional locator to your location to mark your lines within a few days. Once your underground lines have been marked, you will know the approximate location of your utility lines and can dig safely, because knowing what’s below protects you and your family.
When do you need to call?
You need to call for underground locates before planning a home improvement job, planting a tree, installing a fence or deck or any other project that involves digging.
Smart digging means calling 811 before each job. Whether you are a homeowner or a professional excavator, one call to 811 gets your underground utility lines marked for FREE.
Visit them online at www.call811.com for more great information about this awesome service.
February 3, 2007
Maytag is voluntarily recalling 2.3 million Maytag and Jenn-Air brand dishwashers because of faulty wiring, the company and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a statement released Thursday.
The recalled appliances are blamed for causing 135 fires and four injuries. Dishwashers affected by this recall were sold at department and appliance stores between July 1997 and June 2001. They were sold at prices between $370 and $800 and were manufactured in the United States.
These dishwashers need to be disconnected from electrical power immediately. To do this, turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse and inform all users of the dishwasher about the risk of fire. The company said liquid rinse-aid can leak from the appliances’ dispenser into internal wiring and short-circuit and ignite.
|Brand||Model numbers MUST begin with…||and Serial numbers MUST end with…|
|Maytag®||MDB3, MDB4, MDB5, MDB6, MDB7, MDB8, MDB9, MDBD, MDC3, MDC4, MDC5, DWU9||SM, SQ, SS, SU, SW, SY, SZ, UB, UD, UF, UH, UK, UM, UQ, US, UU, UW, UY, UZ, WB, WD, WF, WH, WK, WM, WQ, WS, WU, WW, WY, WZ, YB, YD, YF, YH, YK, YM, YQ, YS, YU, YW, YY, YZ|
|Jenn-Air®||JDB3, JDB4, JDB5, JDB6, JDB7||UB, UD, UF, UH, UK, UM, UQ, US, UU, UW, UY, UZ, WB, WD, WF, WH, WK, WM, WQ, WS, WU, WW, WY, WZ, YB, YD, YF, YH, YK, YM, YQ, YS, YU, YW, YY, YZ|
Maytag will provide free in-home repair or a $75 cash back reimbursement on the purchase of a new Maytag, Jenn-Air, Whirlpool or KitchenAid dishwasher. For more information, contact Maytag Corporation at (800) 675-0535 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at http://www.repair.maytag.com/.
January 25, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously (2-0) today to require manufacturers of portable generators to warn consumers of carbon monoxide (CO) hazards through a new “Danger” label. The label states that, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES.” Manufacturers will be required to place the “Danger” label on all new generators and the generators’ packaging. The label warns consumers that a generator’s exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a poison that cannot be seen and has no odor, and that generators should never be used inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open.
The death toll from CO associated with generators has been steadily rising in recent years. At least 64 people died in 2005 from generator-related CO poisoning. Many of the deaths occurred after hurricanes and major storms. CPSC staff is aware through police, medical examiner and news reports of at least 32 CO deaths related to portable generators from October 1 through December 31, 2006.
“These deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable,” said Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord. “The warning labels are meant to stop consumers before they make what could be a fatal mistake.”
Generators should be used outdoors only, far from windows, doors and vents. The CO produced by one generator is equal to the CO produced by hundreds of running cars. It can incapacitate and kill consumers within minutes.
The new “Danger” label requirement goes into effect on May 14, 2007 and is required for any portable generator manufactured or imported after that date.
In a separate action last month, the Commission began rulemaking to address safety hazards with generators by approving an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR). The Commission directed staff to investigate various strategies to reduce consumers’ exposure to CO and to enable and encourage them to use generators outdoors only. Those strategies include generator engines with substantially reduced CO emissions, interlocking or automatic shutoff devices, weatherization requirements, theft deterrence and noise reduction.
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
BALLOT VOTE (FINAL RULE FOR LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR PORTABLE GENERATORS)
January 4, 2007
The demand for portable generators has increased greatly in recent years. So too have the number of people who have been killed or sickened by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the improper use of those generators. Portable generators are extremely useful machines, particularly after the loss of electricity in the wake of a storm or other unforeseen circumstance. However, the amount of CO emitted from a portable generator can be several hundred times that released by a modern car’s exhaust and can kill consumers in a very short period of time. Consumers need to be adequately warned of the hazards posed by the improper use of a portable generator.
Today I am voting to promulgate a final rule that requires all portable generators sold in the United States to bear an explicit warning label that will better advise consumers about the very real danger of CO poisoning posed by the use of a portable generator in or near a home. The final rule requires labeling that uses explicit language that warns, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES,” and “NEVER use inside a home or garage, EVEN IF doors and windows are open,” as well as other pertinent safety warnings. Providing this safety information will convey to consumers the CO hazard associated with generators and instructions on how to avoid the hazard. The deaths resulting from CO poisoning from improper portable generator use are preventable, and this warning label is an important step towards eliminating these tragic, but avoidable, deaths in the future.
I am voting today to issue a final rule for labeling requirements for portable generators. This vote today concludes a process that involved excellent Commission staff work and is an important beginning step toward improvements in the safe use and operation of portable generators.
The Commission staff concluded several years ago that the warning labels on portable generators were not as clear or as strong as they could be about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning related to operating portable generators in or near living spaces. Staff worked in the voluntary standards arena, through Underwriters Laboratories (UL), to make changes to the labeling requirements, as well as to the operation of the generators themselves. When this process stalled, UL took it upon itself to impose new labeling requirements for generators bearing the UL certification mark. But this is not a consensus standard and it is unclear how many currently marketed generators bear the new UL warning label.
The Commission’s broader and more comprehensive review of the existing portable generator safety measures could take a considerable amount of time to reach a conclusion. There remain inconsistencies in generator operations which the label cannot cure, such as, the inability to use generators in the very circumstances—wet conditions—in which they are most likely to be needed, and instructions to use a short extension cord, which can have the effect of placing the generator too close to the house for safe operation. But while we are working on the other issues relating to generator safety, we should do what we can to try to stem the rising tide of deaths from portable generators. Therefore, I think that today’s action to mandate improved warning labeling could be one important step in enhancing generator safety.
As a matter of course, we will take another look at the labeling of generators in the context of the broader generator safety rulemaking. If fundamental changes are proposed to the generators themselves, it could certainly have an impact on future generator labeling requirements.