Electrical Safety Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Do you know the basics of electrical safety and how to prevent electrical hazards? Being vigilant when it comes to electrical safety can help prevent accidents, injuries, and electrical fires, and it can help you keep your electronics in good condition. Let’s discuss some electrical safety tips you can implement in your home.

Understanding the Basics of Electrical Safety

Electrician fixing the safety box.

From 2015 to 2019, fire departments across the United States responded to an average of 47,600 electrical fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This makes electrical fires the second most common cause of house fires behind unattended cooking. In most cases, electrical fires are caused by unintended arcing or a discharge of electricity between two conductors.

The electrical system of your home is comprised of your main electrical panel, electric meter, electrical wiring, electrical boxes, outlets, switches, lights, appliances, and electronic equipment, and it’s important to make sure that all of those components are in good working condition in order to prevent electrical fires.

Common Causes of Electrical Fires

Electrical socket caught on fire.
  • Appliances and electronic equipment malfunctions
  • Damaged insulation around electrical wires
  • Faulty or outdated wiring
  • Improperly installed electrical wires, outlets, switches, and fixtures
  • Not using GFCI outlets in wet areas
  • Overloaded outlets or circuits
  • Power surges and lightning strikes
  • Using electrical cords or extension cords that are damaged or frayed

Electrical Safety Tips for Homeowners

The best way you can protect your home from electrical fires is to get regular electrical inspections. You should always have a home’s electrical system inspected before you buy it. After you buy the home, our father-daughter team recommends having your residential electrical system inspected every three to five years. Additionally, you should always:

Electrician at work with safety equipment on a residential house.
  • Keep Your Electrical Panels Labeled and Accessible – Do not place items around or in front of your main electrical panel, and make sure all the circuits are labeled in order to identify what they control.
  • Make Sure You Have GFCI Outlets in Wet Areas – Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, garages, and outdoor areas should all have GFCI outlets
  • Make Sure Your Electrical System Is Properly Grounded – Modern building codes require all homes to be grounded via an 8-foot rod that’s driven into the ground. If your home has electrical outlets with three prongs, there’s a good chance it’s grounded.

Electrical Appliance Safety

Always make sure you practice good electrical appliance safety. This means reading the direction on how to install, operate and maintain the equipment. This includes making sure the power cord is in good condition and unplugging the device if it appears to be malfunctioning.

Electrical Appliance Safety concept.
  • Use Surge Protectors – Always use surge protectors to protect your sensitive electrical devices. Surge protectors have a circuit that redirects electricity in the event of a power surge.
  • Do Not Overload Outlets and Circuits – A good rule of thumb is to never plug in more devices than you have electrical receptacles. If you find that you’re constantly plugging in outlet extenders and maxing out your surge protectors and power strips, have a qualified electrician install more outlets in your home.
  • Properly Store and Handle Extension Cords – Always make sure your extension cords are in good condition and make sure you’re using the right extension cord with the proper wattage for the appliances you intend to connect to it. When not in use, keep the extension cord unplugged and stored in a dry area.

Electrical Outlet Safety

Electrical Outlet Safety.

Before using an outlet, always inspect it for damage. Ensure the cord fits snugly in the outlet, and do not use outlets with loose connections or obvious damage.

  • Childproof Your Outlets – Always install safety covers over outlets that are not in use.
  • Do Not Place Items Near Outlets – Remember not to place flammable items near or in front of electrical outlets.
  • Do Not Use Damaged Outlets – If an outlet is visibly damaged or does not work, do not use it. Instead, call a professional electrician to determine the problems with the outlet and to fix them.

Electrical Cord Safety

Always practice good electrical cord safety by making sure the cords are in good condition and do not have any loose connections or visible damage. If the cord is in poor condition or contains frayed wires, discard the extension cord or the appliance.

overload Electrical cords in a socket.
  • Do Not Run Cords Under Things – Do not run extension cords or appliance cords under carpets, rugs, or furniture.
  • Make Sure Your Cord Is Correct for the Purpose – Always make sure your extension cord can handle the intended wattage and that is it for your intended purpose, like outdoor or indoor use.
  • Unplug Cords Correctly – To avoid damage to the cord, always grip the plug to remove it from the outlet and never the cord.

Outdoor Electrical Safety

Outdoor Electrical outlets.

With an increasing number of homeowners looking to extend their living spaces by creating elaborate outdoor entertainment areas, it’s important to ensure that all of your outdoor electrical outlets are weatherproof and GFCI outlets. This helps prevent damage to the outlet and any appliances by disconnecting the power to the outlet in the event of a malfunction.

  • Take Steps to Protect Outlets from Water – Always keep outdoor outlets covered when not in use and do not use them in the event of rain.
  • Practice Good Stewardship of Outdoor Extension Cords and Power Tools – Never leave extension cords or power tools unattended. When you’re finished using the cord and tools, always store them inside so they will not be exposed to heat or moisture.
  • Avoid Overhead Powerlines – When working outside, always note where the powerlines are and keep clear of them. Accidental contact with a powerline can cause extreme injuries and even death.

Responding to Electrical Emergencies

Electrician involved in an electrical emergency.

If you encounter someone who has been the victim of an electrical shock, always identify the source of the shock and shut down the power before approaching them. Call 911 for help from emergency medical technicians. If the individual needs first aid, get an AED and perform CPR if needed. If you are performing the aid, have others nearby barricade access to the area.

Electrical Fires

The electrical safety box had short circuit that cause Electrical Fires.

If you suspect an electrical fire, unplug or turn off the power if possible. It is not possible to put out an electrical fire with water, and you may increase the danger if you use water because it conducts electricity. You can use baking soda to put out the fire or use a blanket to smother the fire if you’ve turned off the power. You can also use a Class C fire extinguisher. If you’re not sure if you can put the fire out or if it has spread, always call 911 for emergency fire services.

Call an Emergency Electrician

The best way to deal with an electrical fire is to prevent it. If you notice that your circuit breakers keep tripping or that your lights continuously flicker, it’s time to call an emergency electrician, like those at Independence Plumbing. You should also call an emergency electrician if you notice warm or hot switches or electrical outlets, sparks when unplugging or plugging in electrical appliances, or see smoke or smell burning.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s electrical system can prevent accidents, injuries, and electrical fires. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your electrical system inspected or you’re having problems with your electrical system, call our father-daughter team at Independence Plumbing in Independence, OH at 216-789-7544.