Residential Electricity Safety Checklist
When it comes to protecting your home and family, your electrical system shouldn’t be overlooked. If you want to make your home’s electricity use safer, run through this nine-step checklist.
1.Outlets. Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and cause a fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. If you have children, make sure safety covers are securely placed in all unused outlets within reach. Homes built after 2008 should have tamper-resistant receptacles, which have a built-in shutter mechanism that blocks everything but a properly rated plug.
2.Plugs. Make sure your plugs fit into your outlets securely. Never remove the ground pin (third prong) to make it fit into a two-conductor outlet—it could lead to electric shock. Never force a plug to into an outlet if it doesn’t fit. Also, avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances and devices.
3.Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters. GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault had occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shot. Test GFCIs monthly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, to make sure they are working properly.
4.Cords. Lamps, TVs and appliances all have one thing in common; cords. Check all the cords in your home to ensure they are in good condition. If you notice they are frayed or cracked, you should discontinue use. Make sure all cords are placed out of high traffic areas where people can trip over them. For safety’s sake, never staple or nail cords to anything and do not place them under carpets or rugs.
5.Extension Cords. Also check to see if your extension cords are in good condition. Keep in mind that extension cords are meant to be used only on a temporary basis and should not be used for permanent household wiring. If you use an extension cord outside, double check that it’s rated for outdoor use.
6.Lightbulbs. Check all the light bulbs in your home to make sure they are the correct wattage for the fixture they are used in. Replace any bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended. (If you don’t know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer of the fixture.) Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely, as loose bulbs can overheat.
7.Circuit Breakers and Fuses. Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size and current rating for their circuit. If you don’t know the correct size, have a licensed electrician identify and label the size to be used. If you find a fuse needs replacing, always replace it with the correct size.
8.Appliances. If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. The same is true if an appliance has given you a shock.
9.Surge protectors. Make sure your entertainment and computer equipment is plugged into a surge protector, which can help protect it against power surges. Make sure your surge protector bears the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency, such as UL.