Office Electrical Hazards Are Shockingly Simple to Avoid Today's offices are filled with a variety of electrical equipment. On any given day, you can find computers, printers, monitors, scanners, lamps, CD players, cell phones and iPod chargers in use; and chances are, they're all plugged into inexpensive, overloaded power strips. According to the non-profit organization, Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), using a power strip to solve the problem of too few outlets may cause an even bigger problem, an overloaded circuit. If too many pieces of equipment are plugged into the same outlet and they're all in use at the same time, more current may be running through the outlet than it can handle. This can cause the wiring or outlet to overheat, which could start an electrical fire. While the number of outlets in offices isn't something you can control, there are things you can do to keep yourself safe from electrical hazards. ESFI has compiled the following guidelines to help you: · Use a name-brand power strip from a reputable retailer. Low-quality or counterfeit power strips may not be adequate to carry the load. · Place power strips where there is plenty of air circulation to disperse heat. · Don't attempt to plug grounded (three-prong) cords into ungrounded (two-slot) outlets. · Don't bind, kink or knot electrical cords. · Never run power cords under rugs or where chairs can roll over them. · Keep cords close to a wall to avoid trip hazards. · Keep all non-critical electrical items unplugged until you need to use them. · Charge battery-operated devices in another area. Overloading is even more of a problem with extension cords. To prevent electrical fires caused by extension chords, always use an extension cord with the same or larger wire size as the cord being extended. Remember, extension cords are designed for temporary use. Ask you supervisor if it is possible to have an electrician install additional outlets. Finally, protecting yourself from electrical injuries also means knowing when there is the potential for a fire to start. If your computer screen flickers or fades, or if you smell burning, power down and immediately report it to you supervisor. You should also report any outlets or walls that are warm to the touch, or if an outlet is discolored; circuit breakers frequently trip, fuses frequently blow; or you smell burning insulation.