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Room by Room: Home Electrical Safety

room safetyElectricity is a safe and reliable form of energy used to power equipment and appliances in your home. However, it can be dangerous if not treated properly. The following is a checklist of items that you can use throughout your home to help protect your family.

Whole house

  • Make sure light bulbs are the appropriate wattage for all fixtures.
  • Cover all outlets with face plates that fit snugly to walls.
  • If small children are present, install covers on all unused outlets.
  • Keep electrical cords away from foot traffic and make sure they're not covered by rugs or furniture.
  • Avoid using extension cords on a long-term basis. 

Bathrooms

  • Never use electrical devices, such as radios or hair dryers, when the bathtub is being used.
  • Install only ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in the bathroom. GFCIs monitor current flow in a circuit and shuts it off if an imbalance is detected.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.

Kitchen

  • Unplug countertop appliances when not in use.
  • Locate appliance cords away from heat sources, such as the stove or range.
  • Make sure all kitchen outlets are GFCI protected.

Bedrooms

  • Avoid drinking liquid when using an electric blanket or heating pad. Don't cover an electric blanket when in use.
  • Make sure electric blankets are in good condition; check for cracks or breaks in electrical cords.
  • Turn off electric blankets and heating pads when not in use if they don't have a timer.
  • Avoid plugging in multiple devices into one outlet.

Basement

  • Keep the electrical panel free from obstructions, and make sure your hands and the floor are dry before touching the panel.
  • Install GFCIs in outlets located near clothes washers or wash tubs, or all outlets if it's damp.
  • Place portable heaters and dehumidifiers on a stable and level surface, at least three feet from walls and other objects.
  • Make sure portable heaters turn off when they tip over.

Outdoors

  • Install protective covers on all outlets and make sure they're all GFCIs and weather proof.
  • Make sure power tools are in good condition and wires aren't cracked or frayed.
  • Store power tools indoors to keep them from being damaged by water or excessive heat.
  • When working outdoors, use only weather-resistant extension cords marked for outdoor use.
  • Power lines may be underground as well. Before digging, call 811 to have utility lines marked.

This list is for informational purposes only and isn't meant to supersede any state or local building codes. Contact your local building inspector for any information regarding requirements in your area. Remember that common sense and good safety habits are the best protection against electrical hazards.

Image source: iStock

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