Electrical Safety for Vulnerable Family Members


Some families have members who may be more vulnerable than others. For those with vision, mobility, or sensory issues, we may need to do things to create a safer, more comfortable environment for them. With a little help, they can remain independent in spite of electrical dangers. Here are some ways to minimize electrical hazards for vulnerable people:

Turn the water heater to the lowest setting

The reasons for this are twofold; first, some people (seniors, children) have sensitive skin which can sustain a burn quite easily in scalding-temperature water. Second, some people don’t move as fast as they used to, so it’s harder for them to get out of the way if the water temperature becomes suddenly hot.

Adding lights

Adding lights to hallways and other areas to prevent tripping and make it easier for them to see to navigate. Want something even better? Add motion-detecting lights, so they don’t have to fumble around for a switch, or add LED lighting down at floor level or by stair treads to increase visibility.

Keep the scooter or electric wheelchair charged

Many people have a scooter electric wheelchair in addition to their walker. While less mobile people should be encouraged to exercise, the frustration of not being mobile when they need it can be demoralizing. Keep the scooter charged. While it may not always be needed, when it’s necessary, it can offer a better option to a person than exhaustion and lack of proper mobility.


Larger clocks

Those tiny little clock faces make her hard for a person with poor vision to read. Not being able to see makes a person feel helpless. Clocks with an easily readable face keep a person with vision issues apprised of the time and minimizes confusion.


Smoke alarms should be installed and tested on a monthly basis. For the hearing impaired, there are smoke detectors with strobe lights as well as shaking mechanisms.

Anyone can benefit from a strobe/shaker alarm clock such as this one. It not only has a 95 dB alarm, but it has red flashing strobe lights and a vibrating disc ro install beneath the pillow of the person who wants to be wakened. Any of the features can be turned off, lest the owner fears awakening the neighbors.

Electrical cords and outlets

Electrical outlets should be within easy reach. While extension cords are fine for occasional use, if a person needs access to an electrical outlet on a regular basis, a surge protection power strip can provide that. Even better? Add a receptacle to a conveniently accessible location. Electrical receptacles, as well as appliances and their cords should be checked periodically for damage, cracks, and breaks, especially near the plug end of the cord.


Many people live in homes they’ve lived in for years without reasonable electrical upgrades. Check for GFCI’s in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor areas. Test them monthly.

Space heaters

Space heaters can bring added warmth to a person who is sensitive to cold due to circulation problems or other conditions. Space heaters are a great way to do this but should be at least three feet away and unplugged when not in use. A better option might be an oil-filled heater, which takes a long time to heat up but provides safe, long-lasting heat.

When you need a licensed electrician for commercial or residential electrical needs, call Zimmerman Electric at 310-378-1323.