Keep your family safe in your home by brushing up on how to use electricity safely and by periodically giving your home an electrical checkup:
- Make sure outlets in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, workshop, basement, garage, or any area with access to water are equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A GFCI monitors the flow of electricity in a circuit. If there is an irregularity, even a small one, the flow of electricity is shut off, preventing an electric shock. GFCIs should be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly.
- Periodically check outlets for loose-fitting plugs. Replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed.
- If you have young children or pets at home, install tamper resistant outlets (TROs) or cover unused outlets with plastic safety caps.
- Never force plugs into outlets, and never remove the grounding pin (third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet.
- Avoid overloading outlets with adapters and too many appliance plugs.
- Extension cords are designed for temporary use only. They should never be put in place as a long-term solution. A qualified electrician can help you install the necessary wiring and receptacle outlets for a permanent solution.
- Make sure cords are not frayed or cracked, placed under carpets or rugs, or located in high traffic areas. If a cord is damaged in any way, replace it. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors, or other objects.
- Also, as a safety precaution, make it a habit to remove a cord from the outlet by pulling on the plug rather than the cord itself.
- Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that spark and flicker.
- Check that light bulb wattage matches the fixture requirements. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage ratings than recommended. Screw them in securely. Also, consider using LED or CFL bulbs to reduce energy use in your home.
- Make sure fuses are properly sized for the circuit they are protecting. If you do not know the correct rating, have an electrician identify and label the correct size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same size you are removing. Check to make sure circuit breakers are working properly.
- If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Look for cracks or damage in wiring and connectors, and use surge protectors to protect electronics.
- If fuses blow or trip frequently, have a professional determine the appropriate service requirements for your home.
For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.