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Light Bulb Safety

Common household lights are likely the most common electrical device that any homeowner uses. In fact, we’re so used to them that many people forget to take proper care when working with lighting in their own home. While there is very little risk of injury from lighting, carelessness can lead to injury so it’s helpful to have a few pointers when replacing or installing lights in your own home. Common risks often arise from attempting to replace a bulb, installing new lighting, or from disposing a light bulb improperly. Let’s take a look at the proper way to deal with lights so that you keep the box of bandages unopened.

Replacing a Light Bulb

So here it is, one of the most common injuries associated with lightbulbs comes from attempting to replace a broken or burnt out light bulb. The most common injuries are from lacerations, electric shocks, and burns.

A bulb that has burnt out – the filament has broken but the glass envelope is still intact – is the safest light to replace. Simply turn off the wall switch, make sure that the lamp has cooled off, and replace the light bulb. Most injuries occur when a person fails to wait for the bulb to cool, leading to mild burns.

When a light bulb has broken, however, you should never attempt to remove the bulb with your bare hands. Always turn off power at the breaker circuit when dealing with a broken light bulb. This will protect you in the event that the light switch is reversed or there is more than one switch that activates that lamp. Once power is removed, use work-gloves to avoid being cut by the glass or a pair of pliers to remove the metal base.

New Lighting Installation Safety

When we say new lighting, we’re talking about the entire system. Replacing a bulb is designed to be simple, but adding a new lighting fixture and running additional wiring is complicated. Unless you’re certified as an electrician, we recommend hiring a professional. The number one reason is to protect your home against future danger. Each year, many homes burn down due to faulty wiring. Adding extra fixtures to a room may allow for more light, but they also add an increase in electrical load that your wiring may not be able to handle. In addition, wiring that isn’t installed properly can wear away the outer insulation, leading to sparks that can ignite insulation and cause a fire.

Replacing a bulb or even a fixture is one thing. Always seek professional assistance when new wiring is involved.

Lighting Disposal

Most light bulbs are difficult to recycle. Incandescent lamps can be recycled but are often simply disposed of because of the difficulty in separating the metal from the glass. While an incandescent bulb contains no components that are directly hazardous to the environment (the glass takes a while to break down), other lamps are not as fortunate.

You should always recycle any fluorescent lamps you own. Both tube and CFL lights should be taken to a recycling center. These lamps, while they contain very little of it, require mercury in their construction. Should a fluorescent lamp break in your home, ventilate the area before collecting the pieces for recycling. Never throw a CFL or fluorescent tube in the trash.

Likewise, check with your local recycling center to see if they accept LED bulbs. While there are no hazardous vapors in an LED, they are constructed with rare-earth and a few heavy metal elements. Over time, these metals leech out if not disposed of properly.

Disposing of light bulbs is simple. But be careful, and always store lamps in a cardboard or plastic container. If a bulb shatters while in a plastic bag it could injure anyone who handles the bag after it’s been sealed. If you practice safe electrical habits, you’ll always avoid injury when it comes to lighting.