Equipment & Wiring
Taking necessary precautions will ensure electrical safety in your home, at work or wherever electricity is present. Remember, there are no shortcuts when it comes to electrical safety awareness, and with these helpful tips your safety will always come first. When doing electrical work around your house, always consult a qualified electrician.
Home Safety Terminology
You can be severely shocked or electrocuted even from contact with a 120-volt outlet in your home.
Here are some terms you may want to be familiar with:
Fuses / Breakers
Use correct size fuses and breakers for circuits. Size refers to a circuit's amperage rating. If you do not know the rating, have a qualified electrician identify and label the sizes to be used.
Disconnect immediately if an appliance blows a fuse, trips a breaker or emits sparks or sizzling sounds. Discard the appliance or have it repaired.
Never overload branch circuits by operating more appliances than the circuits were designed to handle. Remember: Several outlets are usually connected to one branch circuit.
Before plugging in appliances, familiarize yourself with how much of a load common appliances produce on household circuits.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
GFCIs work by detecting slight variations in current. If a short occurs, a GFCI will trip in a fraction of a second.
There are three types of GFCIs:
- Circuit breaker-type GFCIs installed by qualified electricians go directly into an electrical panel to replace ordinary circuit breakers.
- Receptacle-type GFCIs installed by qualified electricians resemble ordinary electrical outlets and can be tested and reset at the outlet.
- Portable GFCIs can be plugged directly into any receptacle and do not require special knowledge to install.
Where are they used? — Ground fault circuit interrupters should be installed where water is present (such as in bathrooms and kitchens), or where easy contact with the ground can be made. However, even with GFCIs, you must still exercise extreme caution around water.
Test — Never modify or bypass a GFCI. Test GFCIs periodically to see that they are working properly. Do this by pressing the red "Test" button on each GFCI.
Trees near power lines can be dangerous. If a snapped or trimmed limb falls onto a power line, do not touch the limb with your hands, a pole or other object. Here are some other tips to keep you safe:
- Routinely inspect power tools and cords. If they have broken or frayed insulation or cause shocks, smoke, spark or emit strange odors, replace or repair the tool.
- Check for grounding. Make sure all 3-wired tools and appliances with flexible cords are properly grounded.
- Observe tagout and lockout procedures for heavy electrical equipment. Turn off power tools before unplugging; turn switches off before plugging in. Do not cut off ground prongs: This eliminates the protection grounded cords afford to you.
- Check the amperage rating for an extension cord and make sure it is greater than or equal to the tool you will be using. You can determine this by comparing the rating labels on both the cord and tool you intend to use.
- Never substitute extension cords for permanent wiring. Keep slack in the cords. Tape when running across traffic areas. Avoid pinch points at closed doors or windows. Do not staple or nail extension cords to walls. Keep away from oil or corrosive material.
- Before using an extension cord outside or in a wet area, confirm that the cord is rated for outdoor use and make sure the cord is connected to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.