Electrical Safety Tips
Below are some checks you
can make in your home today to ensure electrical
Check for outlets that have
loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat
and lead to fire. Replace any missing or
broken wall plates. Make sure there are
safety covers on all unused outlets that
are accessible to children.
Make sure cords are in good
condition—not frayed or cracked. Make
sure they are placed out of traffic areas.
Cords should never be nailed or stapled
to the wall, baseboard or to another object.
Do not place cords under carpets or rugs
or rest any furniture on them.
Check to see that cords are
not overloaded. Additionally, extension
cords should only be used on a temporary
basis; they are not intended as permanent
household wiring. Make sure extension cords
have safety closures to help prevent young
children from shock hazards and mouth burn
Make sure your plugs fit your
outlets. Never remove the ground pin (the
third prong) to make a three-prong fit a
two-conductor outlet; this could lead to
an electrical shock. NEVER FORCE A PLUG
INTO AN OUTLET IF IT DOESN'T FIT. Plugs
should fit securely into outlets. Avoid
overloading outlets with too many appliances.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
GFCIs can help prevent electrocution.
They should be used in any area where water
and electricity may come into contact. When
a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical
circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred.
It then interrupts power fast enough to
help prevent serious injury from electrical
shock. Test GFCIs according to the manufacturer's
instructions monthly and after major electrical
storms to make sure they are working properly.
Replace all GFCIs that are not working properly,
but never replace a GFCI with a standard
non-GFCI outlet or circuit breaker. Do not
use an appliance or device that trips a
GFCI on a nonGFCI-protected circuit; instead,
take the appliance to authorized repair
center to be checked for faulty wiring or
Check the wattage of all
bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they
are the correct wattage for the size of
the fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher
wattage than recommended; if you don't know
the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer
of the fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed
in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.
Circuit breakers and fuses
should be the correct size current rating
for their circuit. If you do not know the
correct size, have an electrician identify
and label the size to be used. Always replace
a fuse with the correctly specified size
Water and Electricity
Don't leave plugged-in appliances
where they might fall in contact with water.
If a plugged-in appliance falls into water,
NEVER reach in to pull it out—even
if it's turned off. First turn off the power
source at the panel board and then unplug
the appliance. If you have an appliance
that has gotten wet, don't use it until
it has been checked by a qualified repair
If an appliance repeatedly
blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or
if it has given you a shock, unplug it and
have it repaired or replaced.
Check to see that the equipment
is in good condition and working properly.
Look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs
and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing
the seal of a nationally recognized certification
Electric-powered mowers and
other electric tools should not be used
in the rain, on wet grass or in wet conditions.
Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers
before each use for frayed power cords,
broken plugs and cracked or broken housings.
If any part is damaged, stop using it immediately.
Repair it or replace it. Always use an extension
cord marked for outdoor use and rated for
the power needs of your tools. Remember
to unplug all portable power tools when
not in use. When using ladders, watch out
for overhead wires and power lines.
When using ladders, avoid
contact with overhead wires and power lines.
Stay at least 10 feet from all lines.
During an electrical storm,
do not use appliances (i.e., hairdryers,
toasters and radios) or telephones (except
in an emergency); do not take a bath or
shower; keep batteries on hand for flashlights
and radios in case of a power outage; and
use surge protectors on electronic devices,
appliances, phones, fax machines and modems.
Space heaters are meant to
supply supplemental heat. Keep space heaters
at least 3 ft. away from any combustible
materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies,
furniture and rugs. Don't use in rooms where
children are unsupervised and remember to
turn off and unplug when not in use. Do
not use space heaters with extension cords;
plug directly into an outlet on a relatively
Halogen Floor Lamps
Halogen floor lamps operate
at much higher temperatures than a standard
incandescent light bulb. Never place a halogen
floor lamp where it could come in contact
with draperies, clothing or other combustible
materials. Be sure to turn the lamp off
whenever you leave the room for an extended
period of time and never use torchiere lamps
in children's bedrooms or playrooms. Consider
using cooler fluorescent floor lamps.
Unless you are qualified
and experienced in electrical work, consider
hiring a licensed electrician for electrical
repairs, maintenance and installations.
If you elect to perform such work, make
sure you follow these safety basics:
Never work on or around “hot”
lines. Always de-energize lines and equipment
by disconnecting from the power source at
the circuit breakers or fuses. Don't forget
to test every conductor before you make
contact with it.
Never use the ground wire
as the neutral or circuit-carrying conductor.
The ground wire is not designed to carry
current continuously, but briefly under
an abnormal condition. The neutral wire
is designed as a current carrier and can
carry as much current as the hot wire. Use
a strip gauge on devices to strip the proper
length of insulation from wires. Too little
risks the screw tightening on plastic insulation;
too much leaves bare wires that can cause
a dangerous contact. When using wire connectors,
be sure the insulation on the wires is completely
covered by the wire connector.