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Review the Safety Basics

electrical plugMost electric safety rules are common sense - but it's easy to get careless, especially if you're distracted or in a hurry.

Take a few minutes to look around your home for ways to eliminate potential safety hazards.

The right way:

  • DO cover all electrical outlets and wall switches with cover plates, and replace any that are damaged.
  • DO make sure all electrical devices are in good repair.
  • DO use extension cords and “cheater” plugs only on a temporary basis.
  • DO use a quality surge suppresser with enough sockets for every component.
  • DO keep all electrical devices away from water sources.
  • DO flag the fuse or breaker switch so no one else touches it while you're working.
  • DO have GFCI outlets and waterproof covers on all outdoor outlets.
  • DO look out for overhead power lines every time you use a ladder or pole. Stay at least 10 feet away from any electrical lines.
  • DO call a professional for help trimming trees near power lines.
  • DO keep electrical devices and cords away from water.
  • DO keep children and pets away from utility equipment, including meters and transformers.

The wrong way:

  • DON'T yank electrical cords from the wall - this can damage both the plug and the outlet.
  • DON'T attach a cord to another surface with nails or staples - it can damage the insulation.
  • DON'T use damaged or brittle electrical cords, even if bare wires aren't visible.
  • DON'T attempt to fix an electrical appliance or tool while the unit is plugged in.
  • DON'T plug one extension cord into another.
  • DON'T run cords under furniture - it can damage the insulating cover.
  • DON'T assume the black coating on wires is insulation - it could be just plastic weatherproofing that provides no protection from contact injuries.
  • DON'T let kids climb trees or fly kites near power lines.
  • DON'T disguise transformers or meters with paint or bushes - a utility worker might need to work safely around it or find it quickly in an emergency.
  • DON'T hang signs on utility poles. Nail, staples or tacks can pose a big danger to workers who must climb the poles.
  • DON'T tamper with an electric meter (it's dangerous and illegal), and keep it free of ice and snow during the winter.


Learn more about electric safety:

PowerHouse: Home Comfort Tips - Keeping Your Home Safe

National Electrical Safety Foundation

Underwriters Laboratories

Consumer Product Safety Commission