May is Electrical Safety Month.  It’s also a busy time of the year for thunderstorms, lightning strikes, and windstorms that can cause power lines to fall and risk damage to electronic devices.

Did you know that a power strip (aka power tap) and a surge protector are actually two different things?  It’s easy to overlook with similar appearances.

While power strips generally have an on/off switch, several outlets, a circuit breaker, and bendable cord, it does not have an electrical filtering mechanism that surge protectors do.  Surge protectors list the electric rating in joules and the maximum voltage it can withstand from a voltage spike.

Surge protectors, not power strips, should be used for devices such as coffee makers, toasters, microwaves, and slow cookers.  This rating should be stamped on the surge protector housing.   It is good practice to refer to the joule rating when determining if it will provide adequate protection for your equipment.  Safe electrical equipment usage prevents property damage as 3 in 5 home electrical fires involve lighting equipment or home electrical wiring.