Operating with electricity is one of the most dangerous activities you can undertake as home owner. If not handled properly, electricity can cause dangerous shocks and fires. Most electrical home injuries are a result of touching live wires that were thought dead. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when working with electricity.
Cut off the power. The most important thing to remember when doing electrical repairs is to cut power to your home and appliance you’re working on. Before you start to work on the wiring, always trip the circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse to the circuit. When in doubt about which circuit to switch off, you should turn off the main power supply. Make sure to unplug any appliance you’re working on.
Backup electrical safety. Once you have cut off power, there are five additional safety measures that should be carried out. Sometimes these extra steps are referred to as backup electrical safety.
- Using a circuit tester to make sure a circuit is actually dead.
- Use a wood or fiberglass ladder when working on ceiling fixtures such as fans and chandeliers. Aluminum ladders conduct electricity and offer a high risk to getting shocked.
- Use a cordless drill when working on electricity outdoors.
- Stand on a dry board and wear rubber boots when working in damp or wet conditions. Water is a conductor of electricity.
- Always wear insulating gloves when using electrical tools.
Fire Hazards. Faulty wiring can cause fires. Restriction of a current flow through a wire or cord, such as a cord that is poorly connected to its plug, may lead to overheating and a fire. If a cord shows any wear and tear it should be replace as quickly as possible.
The “extension cord octopus” is another common cause of electrical fires. Where too many appliances are plugged into an extension cord excessive heat builds up in the cord as it extension cord tries to carry the electricity for all the appliances. The cord’s insulation melts from the heat and wires are exposed as the insulation weakens. This leads to a short circuit that sends sparks flying when the bare wires touch one another. This situation can lead to serious shocks, as well as electrical fires.
More safety precautions. In addition to the safety measures above, here are a few extra precautions to keep in mind.
- Lock or leave a note on the service panel to alert others that you are working on circuit wiring.
- Study your homes wiring and know how it works before you adjust or work on any electrical system.
- Circuits are dead only past where they have been disconnected. Even after the circuit breakers have been turned off or the fuses removed, the lines for the utility company in the service panel are still hot.