Safety Tips

DIY Electrical Safety Information

Is your home accident-prone?

Review our safety tips to see how you can prevent electrical hazards in your home or workplace.

Check outlets, cords and plugs for preventable hazards.

Outlets

Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any broken wall plates. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.

Cords

Make sure lamp and appliance 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 and they should not have any furniture resting on them.

Extension Cords

Check to see that extension cords do not get overheated. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not safe as permanent household wiring.

Plugs

Make sure the proper type plug is in each outlet. If you are using three-prong plugs in a room with two-conductor outlets, do not cut off the ground pin (the third/bottom prong) from the plug; this could lead to an electrical shock hazard. A better solution is to use a two-prong adapter.

NEVER FORCE A PLUG INTO AN OUTLET IF IT DOESN’T FIT.

This could lead to fire or shock. Plugs should fit securely into outlets, and outlets should not be overloaded.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

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 regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure they are working properly.

Light Bulbs

Check the wattage of all bulbs in lighting 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/Fuses

Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct sizes for the circuits. If you do not know the correct size fuse, have an electrician identify and label the sizes to be used. Never replace a fuse with anything but another, correct size fuse.

Check outlets, cords and plugs for preventable hazards.

Water and Electricity Don’t Mix

Don’t place any electrical appliances near water; i.e., a sink or a bathtub. Appliances that are used near water should be unplugged when not in use. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, unplug it and don’t use it until it’s been checked by a qualified repair person.

Appliances

If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, or if it has emitted an electric shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.

Entertainment/ Computer Equipment

Check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly; look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors.

Safety Checklist

Print out this safety check list and use it to determine if your home is accident prone. Locate potential hazards and correct them to prevent accidents and issues from occurring in your future.

Check the following throughout your home:

1. Are electrical extension cords in good condition?

2. Are electrical extension cords kept from being stretched across heavily traveled areas of your home?

3. Are unused electrical outlets covered or locked?

4. Are electrical outlets checked regularly for overloading?

5. Do you know how to turn off gas and electricity in case of emergency?

6. Are proper size fuses used for replacement rather than pennies or substitutes?

7. Are floor surfaces nonskid?

8. Are all floor coverings fastened down?

9. Are fireplaces screened and protected?

10. Are open flames such as candles kept away from walls and curtains?

11. Do you have smoke detectors in your home, and have you checked the batteries lately?

12. Is an approved fire extinguisher kept on each floor?

13. Do you have emergency phone numbers – police, fire, doctor, utilities – handy to the phone?

14. Is a sturdy stepladder available for climbing?

15. Do interior doors such as those on closets or bathrooms have safety release locks that allow them to be opened from either side?

16. If there are small children in your home, are open windows securely screened?

17. Is lead-free paint used on all objects accessible to children?

Is your clothes dryer a fire hazard?

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that approximately 14,000 clothes dryer-related fires occur each year. Some of these fires may occur when lint builds up in the filter or in the exhaust duct. Under certain conditions, when lint blocks the flow of air, excessive heat buildup may cause a fire in some dryers. To prevent clothes dryer-caused fires, follow these often-overlooked safety precautions:
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  • Clean the lint filter regularly and make sure the dryer is operating properly. Clean the filter after each load of clothes. While the dryer is operating, check the outside exhaust to make sure exhaust air is escaping normally. If it is not, look inside both ends of the duct and remove any lint. If there are signs that the dryer is hotter than normal, it may be a sign that the dryer’s temperature control thermostat needs servicing.
  • Check the exhaust duct more often if you have a plastic, flexible duct. This type of duct is more likely to trap lint than smooth metal ducting.
  • Closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions for new installations. Most manufacturers that get their clothes dryers approved by Underwriters Laboratories specify the use of metal exhaust ducts. If metal ducts are not available at the retailer where the dryer was purchased, check other locations, such as hardware or builder supply stores. If you are having the dryer installed, insist upon metal ducts unless the installer has verified that the manufacturer permits the use of plastic ducts.