General Electrical Safety Tips


Ground Fault Circuit interrupter (GFCIs) are electrical outlets that help protect you from electrical shock. GFCIs can detect electrical faults and shut off electricity to the outlet. This should help prevent serious injury or death. 

Power Surge Protection 

Occasionally, the power or voltage level has a brief disturbance or fluctuation caused by such things as weather or accidents. Most appliances in your home are not affected, but some electronic equipment, such as computers, microwaves, and VCRs, need protection. Adding a surge protector can help protect your equipment. 

Electrical Cords 

Appliance cords are safe only when the insulation is in good condition. Damaged or brittle electrical cords can cause shorts, shocks, or fires and should be replaced. Cords can be damaged by pulling the cord instead of the plug to remove it from the outlet. They also can be damaged by being kinked, twisted, bound, or walked on. Do not place cords under rugs where they will be damaged by being walked on. Do not attach cords to walls or baseboards with nails or staples that can break the insulation. 

Circuit Breakers and fuses 

Circuit breakers and fuses prevent too much power from flowing through circuits in your home. They automatically turn off electricity to that circuit to help prevent damage or fires. You’ll need to locate the circuit breakers or fuses for your home. They are usually in a metal box or on an outside wall near the electrical meter. Identify and label which breaker or fuse protects each circuit in your home. If some lights and/or appliances stop working when you turn on another appliance, you probably have blown a fuse or tripped a breaker by overloading the circuit. 

How to Reset Circuit Breakers 

When a circuit breaker trips off, that breaker switch will need to be reset. Turn off the lights or appliances you were using. Check the circuit breaker panel to find the tripped switch.  A tripped switch may look like it’s still on or it may have moved to another position. To reset a circuit switch, move it to off  and then to on. If the switch is a push button, it will pop out. Push it all the way in to reset it. If the breaker trips again when you turn on the lights or appliances you were using, you may be overloading the circuit. You may need to move an appliance to a different circuit. If you still have no electricity after these steps are taken, try turning off the main breaker switch and all circuit breaker switches. Then, turn on the main breaker switch and reset each circuit breaker switch. If you still have a problem, call your electric company.

Replacing Fuses 

If your home has fuses, keep extra fuses handy in the sizes you need. When a fuse is blown, it needs to be replaced. A blown fuse will have a metal strip in the center of its glass top or the glass will look smokey. Turn off the appliances and lights you were using. Turn off the main switch on the fuse box (it may be a cartridge fuse in a block that must be pulled out completely). Check the fuses to find the blown fuse. Be sure to replace the blown fuse with the proper size, or you may cause a fire. When in doubt, use 15–amp fuses. Never substitute an object, such as a coin, for a fuse. If you still have a problem, call your electrical company.


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