May Electrical Safety Awareness Month

May is National Electrical Safety Month

Electrical wiring – improper installation, or damaged or deteriorated wiring and cords – sparks an estimated 50,000 home fires each year. These fires cause more than 500 deaths, 1,500 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage and loss each year. Additionally, emergency rooms treat almost 2,500 children each year for injuries triggered by sticking objects into electrical outlets or getting kites tangled on electrical power lines. All of these can be Prevented!

Top 10 Rules for Electric Safety

To play it safe around your home or work, just remember the rules for using electricity the right way.

1. DON’T plug a bunch of stuff into one outlet or extension cord.It could damage the electrical system in your house or even cause a fire.2. Make sure all electric cords are tucked away, neat and tidy.

Pets might chew on electrical cords, and people might trip and fall.

3. DON’T ever climb the fence around an electrical substation.If a ball or pet gets inside the fence, ask a grown-up to call the electric company – they’ll come and get it out for you.
4. DON’T yank an electrical cord from the wall.Pulling on a cord can damage the appliance, the plug or the outlet.
5. Fly your kite far away from power lines or substations.The kite and the string may conduct electricity – sending it right through you to the ground.6. Ask a grown-up for help when you need to use something that uses electricity.
7. DO look up and look out for power lines before you climb a tree.The electricity can go right through the tree branch – and right through you!8. Have a grown-up put safety caps on all unused electrical outlets.

Covering outlets will also help save energy by stopping cold drafts.

9. Watch out for power lines when they’re using a ladder, chainsaw or other outdoor equipment.10. Keep electrical stuff far away from water.Most electrical accidents around the house happen when people use electricity near water.

General Electrical Safety Tips

· Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.

· Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

· In homes with small children, unused wall sockets and extension-cord receptacles should have plastic safety covers.

· Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.

· Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.

· Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.

· If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.

· When possible, avoid the use of “cube taps” and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.

Polarized and 3-Prong Plugs

· Polarized plugs have one blade that is slightly bigger than the other. This design makes sure that plugs are plugged into outlets correctly and also reduces the risk of electric shock. NEVER shove a polarized plug into a non-polarized outlet or extension cord.

· 3-prong plugs also help to reduce the risk of electric shock. NEVER remove the 3rd prong in order to make it fit into a 2 prong outlet or extension cord.

Light Bulbs

· Check the lamp’s wattage and use the appropriate watt light bulb.

· Make sure that light bulbs are screwed in securely to prevent overheating.

· Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn.

· If you smell a faint burning or rubbery smell from a lamp then the wattage level of the light bulb is too high for the lamp and it should be replaced with the appropriate bulb.


· Make sure that all appliances have been tested by an independent research laboratory and be sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

· Appliances that take a lot of power to operate, such as space heaters and halogen lamps, should be plugged directly into an outlet. These appliances should not be plugged into extension cords.· One Outlet One Plug! Don’t overload electric outlets with several plugs. If multiple appliances must share one outlet, be sure to use only one appliance at a time.

Water and appliances don’t mix!· Don’t leave appliances plugged in where they may come into contact with water.· If an appliance falls into water DO NOT reach in to pull it out. First turn off the power and unplug the appliance.

· Don’t use electric appliances or take showers or baths during an electric storm. Using electricity during an electric storm increases your risk of getting an electric shock.

Hunt for Home Electrical Hazards

Keep an eye out for these warning signs. If any of these are present in your home there could be a risk of an electric fire or electrocution.

· Frequent power outages or blown fuses. This may indicate that your home wiring needs to be updated or repaired. Contact a licensed electrician.

· Overloaded electrical outlets

· Dim or flickering lights

· Sparks or sizzling sounds in outlets or walls

· Overheated plugs, cords or switches

· Smells of something burning or rubbery smells

· Frayed wires or cracked cords Feeling a mild shock or tingle when you plug in an appliance.

Starting a New Outdoors Project?Call Dig-Safe at 811 before any digging or excavation work to prevent any electrical danger.

Safe Extension Cord Use

Extension cords deliver electrical power to where it’s needed. But when they are misused, they can also become electrical hazards.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that some 3,000 people are treated each year for injuries associated with extension cords. In addition, the CPSC reports that improperly functioning extension cords cause 5,000 residential fires annually. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) suggests following these cord safety tips to help avoid shock and fire hazards.

Remember, extension cords are intended for temporary use.

• Never run extension cords through walls, under rugs or furniture, or across doorways.

• Never try to repair a damaged extension cord with electrical tape; replace it instead.

• Never overload an extension cord. If any part of the cord feels warm to the touch, the cord is drawing too much power and could present a fire or shock hazard.

• Never cut off the ground pin to connect a 3-prong appliance cord to a 2-wire extension cord or receptacle. Always use a UL-listed adapter for this purpose.

• Replace older extension cords if one of the prongs in the plug is not “polarized.” In a polarized plug, one prong will be wider than the other.

• Do not allow extension cords to dangle from counters or tables, where someone could accidentally pull them down or trip over them.

• Always plug an appliance in to the extension cord before plugging the extension cord into a wall receptacle. Also, make sure the appliance is “off” before plugging it in.

• When disconnecting an extension cord, pull from the plug, not the cord itself.

• Cover unused outlets on the extension cord to prevent children from making contact with a live circuit.

• Before buying any extension cord, check to ensure that the product has been listed by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Under-writers Laboratories (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

• Use special, heavy-duty extension cords for high-wattage appliances such as air conditioners, portable electric heaters and freezers.

• When placing furniture or an appliance directly up against a wall where a cord is plugged into a receptacle, use a low-profile type of plug. These plugs will let the appliance or furniture get closer to the wall, and there is less chance of the plug coming loose.

• Outside the home, use extension cords designed expressly for outdoor use.

Arc Faults

What is an arc fault?

Arcing faults often occur in damaged or deteriorated wires and cords. Some causes of damaged and deteriorated wiring include puncturing of wire insulation from picture hanging or cable staples, poorly installed outlets or switches, cords caught in doors or under furniture, furniture pushed against plugs in an outlet, natural aging, and cord exposure to heat vent and sunlight.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

One of the most important safety devices in your home is a simple electrical device called a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). Estimates indicate that the installation of GFCIs have saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of injuries in the U.S. over the past 30 years.

GFCIs are designed to provide protection against electrical shock from ground faults, or leakage currents, which occur when the electrical current flows outside of the circuit conductors. If a person becomes part of a path for leakage current, he or she will be severely shocked or electrocuted.

If GFCIs were installed in every U.S. home, experts suggest that nearly 70 percent of the approximately 400 electrocutions that occur each year in the home could be prevented.


· Put a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) between your electric power source and your electric product.

· Test your GFCI monthly and after every major electrical storm.

· If you have a home without GFCIs, consult a qualified, licensed electrician about adding this important protection, purchase plug-in units or a portable GFCI to provide individual receptacle or load protection.

· GFCIs are products designed to prevent serious injury or death from electrical shock by detecting ground faults at very low levels.

· A GFCI should be used in any area where water may come in contact with electrical products. GFCIs are now required by code in certain areas of the home, including unfinished basements, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, garages, crawl spaces and around swimming pools.

· If a GFCI senses minimal current leakage to ground in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It them interrupts power fast enough to prevent serious injury from electrical shock.

· Three types of GFCIs are designed for home use-wall receptacle, circuit breaker and portable plug-in. All three are readily available, inexpensive and fairly simple to install.



Surge protectors and UPS devices protect equipment, but they do not protect from the potential hazards of an overloaded circuit. Make sure the electrical load is not too great for the circuit. A licensed electrician can check your electrical system and provide guidance on the capacity of electrical circuits in your office.

Telltale signs of overloading include:

  • outlets warm to the touch;
  • outlets that are discolored;
  • circuit breakers that frequently trip
  • fuses that frequently blow;
  • burned insulation odors; and
  • extension cord that are warm to the touch.
  • To prevent these electrical hazards, contact a licensed electrician to install dedicated circuits where needed. It is also smart to install outlets to eliminate the use of extension cords.

Information from NEC, OSHA, ESFI,,

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau


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