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Electrical Safety

American homes are filled with electrical appliances and tools that enhance our lives with convenience, comfort, and entertainment. But the power that drives these important devices can be a source of pain and tragedy if it is misused. These guidelines will help you spot electrical problems which may be present in your home and take appropriate action to correct or remove dangers. For continuous safety, give your home periodic checkups to be sure that no new hazards develop.

  • Every home should have the protection of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in bathrooms and kitchens and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) in bedrooms. Contact a professional electrician to ensure your home is adequately protected.

  • Check your GFCI monthly to determine that it is operating properly. Units can be checked by pressing the "TEST "button; the GFCI should disconnect the power to that outlet. Pressing the "RESET" button reconnects the power. If the GFCI does not disconnect the power, get assistance from a professional electrician.

  • If young children are in your home, use child-safety caps on wall outlets.

  • All electrical appliances, cords and fixtures in your home should be listed by an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

  • Never use worn, frayed or otherwise damaged cords or appliances.

  • Follow the appliance manufacturer's recommendation for plugging into electrical power. Extension cords should only be used temporarily.

  • Always use the appropriate light bulb wattage for the size of the fixture. The safe maximum wattage is posted in or on the fixture.

  • Keep all electrically-powered appliances and equipment dry and away from places where water is used.

  • Unplug all small kitchen appliances, hair dryers, curling irons, electric blankets and other small household appliances when not in use.

  • Keep electrical cords out of traffic areas and away from furniture that may cause pressure. Do not place cords under rugs or carpets, which can cause overheating.

  • Check that cords are in good condition and not knotted or coiled. Do not attach extension cords to baseboards or walls with nails or staples.

  • Check the electrical rating on appliance cords and extension cords and make sure they are carrying no more than their proper loads.

  • If you need to use extension cords outside, only use those specifically marked for outdoor use.

  • Never leave the faceplates off of outlets or switches.

  • Outdoor outlets should have waterproof covers.

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