Home Electrical Safety
Electricity is a powerful force in all our lives. But because it is so powerful, it’s important that extra care is taken when using it. Learn how to prevent and avoid electrical hazards to stay safe at home.
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. Don't leave plugged-in appliances where they might make contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, DO NOT pull it out — even if it's switched off. First turn off the power source at the panel board and then unplug the appliance. Do not use an appliance that has been wet until it is checked by a qualified repair person.
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 fuse. If you are having trouble with overloading circuits, an electrical inspection is recommended. Learn About Electrical Inspections
Cords should be in good condition — not frayed or cracked — and placed out of traffic areas. Do not nail or staple cords to the wall, baseboard or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
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.
Check equipment for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors. Use only equipment that is in good condition and working properly. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
Do not overload cords. Use extension cords only on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring. Cords should have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.
Never use water to douse an electrical fire, use the appropriate type of fire extinguisher. Prevent Electrical Fires
Improperly installed generators can cause serious injury or death for electric utility workers. Learn About Generator Safety
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
Use GFCIs in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. Test GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer's instructions and after major electrical storms to assure 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 Any appliance or device that trips a GFCI should not be used on a non GFCI-protected circuit; instead, replace the appliance or take it to an authorized repair center to be checked for faulty wiring.
Ensure light bulbs are the proper wattage for each lighting fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.
Outdoor Equipment and Tools
Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers for worn or exposed wiring, cracks or broken housing. If any part is damaged, discontinue use immediately. Repair or replace damaged items. Do not use electric-powered mowers or other equipment in rain or wet conditions. Use an extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of the equipment. Unplug all portable power tools when not in use.
Outlets with loose-fitting plugs can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Use safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.
Plugs should securely fit in outlets. Do not force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
Keep any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs at least 3 feet from heater. Avoid using extension cords; plug directly into an outlet on a relatively unburdened circuit. Never leave heater unattended and do not use in rooms where children are unsupervised. Turn off and unplug the heater when not in use. Buy only Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved heaters equipped with tip-over safety switches.
Rewiring a home or farm building, adding circuits or upgrading systems are jobs for a qualified, professional electrician. All wiring must meet the minimum standards of the National Electrical Code. If you elect to perform such work, read the Electrical Safety Workbook first.