Put Safety First This Summer
It's always a good time to review electrical hazards and think about how to keep common household dangers at bay.
Each year, electrical malfunctions account for 35,000 home fires causing more than 1,130 injuries, 500 deaths and $1.4 billion in property damage, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International. Because the average American home was built in 1977, many can’t keep up with the demands of today's electrical appliances and devices.
To help prevent adding to the sobering statistics about electrical dangers, watch for the warning signs of an overloaded electrical system, which include:
  • Frequent circuit breaker trips or blown fuses.
  • Lights dimming when electrical appliances or equipment is turned on.
  • Buzzing sounds from switches or outlets.
  • Discolored outlets.
To maintain an electrically safe home, be sure that the following safety devices are installed in your home according to updated codes:
  • Arc-fault circuit interrupters protect against electrical fires caused by malfunctions.
  • Ground-fault circuit interrupters protect against electric shock.
  • Surge protective devices provide safeguards against surges that can damage or reduce the life spans of electrical systems and devices.
  • Tamper-resistant receptacles have an internal shutter system to prevent foreign objects from being inserted into an outlet.
About 3,300 home fires are started by extension cords every year, so it’s important to follow these safety tips:
  • Don’t substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
  • Don’t run cords through walls, doorways, ceilings or floors. If a cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which is a fire hazard.
  • Don’t use an extension cord for more than one appliance.
  • Don’t use a cord that has a lower rating than the appliance or tool you are plugging in.
  • Don't use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way.
  • Don't use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots.
  • An outdoor extension cord can be used indoors; but never use an indoor cord outdoors.
Suds and Savings
10 ways to save energy in the laundry room
Your clothes washer and dryer account for a significant portion of energy consumption from major appliances, and let’s face it––laundry is no one’s favorite chore. Make the most of your laundry energy use! There are several easy ways you can save energy and money in the laundry room. The Department of Energy recommends the following tips for saving on suds: 
  1. Wash with cold water. Switching from warm water to cold water can cut a load’s energy use by more than half, and by using a cold-water detergent, you can still achieve that brilliant clean you’d normally get from washing in warm water. 
  2. Wash full loads when possible. Your washing machine will use the same amount of energy no matter the size of the clothes load, so fill it up if you can.
  3. Use the high-speed or extended spin cycle in the washer. This setting will remove more moisture before drying, reducing your drying time and the extra wear on clothing.
  4. Dry heavier cottons separately. Loads will dry faster and more evenly if you separate heavier cottons like linens and towels from your lightweight clothing.
  5. Use lower heat settings to dry clothing. Regardless of drying time, you’ll still use less energy. 
  6. Use dryer balls. Dryer balls, usually wool or rubber, will help keep clothes separated for faster drying, and they can help reduce static, so you can eliminate dryer sheets.
  7. Switch loads while the dryer is warm. This allows you to take advantage of the remaining heat from the previous cycle. 
  8. Clean the lint filter after each drying cycle. If you use dryer sheets, remember to scrub the filter once a month with a toothbrush to remove excess buildup.
Safety Tip of the Month
Tornado Season Peaks in June
Summertime brings many favorite activities like cooking out with family and friends, afternoons on the water and simply slowing down a bit to enjoy life. But summer months also make conditions right for dangerous storms and tornadoes. Get prepared now for tornado season, which peaks in June, with this safety information from the Texas Department of Insurance.

A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area; and a tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

When a tornado warning has been issued for your area or if you see an approaching tornado, follow these safety tips. If you are in a school, hospital, factory, shopping center, business or home:
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.
  • Do not open windows.
  • Go to a basement, if one is available.
  • Find an interior room on the lowest floor, if there is no basement.
  • Cover yourself in blankets, towels or anything that will protect you from flying debris.
  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately. Find a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter. If no suitable structure is nearby, lie flat, face down, in the nearest ditch or depression and use your hands to cover your head to protect against flying debris.
Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month
A dirty filter causes your air conditioner to work harder than necessary. Remember to change your air filter every month to prevent dust buildup, which can lead to even bigger problems.