During the pandemic, home offices have become a way to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep workers safe. But setting up a temporary or new full-time office at home can create a new kind of health issue — electrical safety.
“Bringing electrical equipment home from the office or adding new equipment to make your home office fully functional can create some concerns of its own,” said John Gasstrom, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Let’s direct the same cautious attitude we have for the virus toward electrical safety so we’re not trading out a health concern for an electrical or fire concern at home.”
Things to consider and do in creating the home office:
• Designate a “place” for your office space. Even if it’s just temporary, an established, comfortable place for your work and whatever equipment you need will keep you from having to continually move equipment and will avoid stretching power cables or creating tripping hazards.
• If the space is somewhere “away from the family,” like an attic, corner of the basement or even a wired “she shed,” it may need a small air conditioner, dehumidifier, or space heater to keep it comfortable. Always plug these larger portable appliances directly into a wall outlet; do not use an extension cord or power strips.
• Keep papers organized and all combustibles at least three feet from a space heater.
• Check electrical cords on any equipment you may be bringing home from the office for cracks and damage; they may have been crimped behind the office credenza for years.
• Avoid using adapters that let grounded three-prong plugs be used in ungrounded (two-slot) outlets.
• Do not overload outlets with multiple power strips and extension cords and avoid using extension cords for extended periods.
• Do not run electrical cords through high-traffic areas, under carpets, or across doorways.
• Unplug non-essential equipment at the end of the day to save energy and ensure added safety.
If your home office requires many electrical devices, you probably should have a licensed electrician come out for an inspection. The electrician may suggest installing additional outlets, arc-fault circuit interrupters, and maybe upgraded wiring and additional circuits.
These updates will make your home workspace more attractive, practical, and, most importantly, safe.