Home Safety – Electrical Safety

Home Safety: Electrical Safety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Electrical Safety Foundation, every year incidents involving electrical equipment, such as extension cords, receptacles, and light bulbs, result in more than 41,000 residential fires that claim about 350 lives and cause over 1,400 injuries. These fires also cause more than $620 million in property damage annually.

Extension Cord Safety


  • Never run an extension cord under a rug.
  • Do not consider extension cords part of your home’s electrical system—use them only for temporary situations.
  • A frayed or cracked cord could cause a shock or fire. Replace old and damaged extension cords.
  • Make sure the cords you buy are approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Never overload an extension cord; that could cause a fire. Check the rating labels on the cords and the appliance. If necessary, upgrade to a higher-rated cord.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission


Receptacle Safety


  • Receptacles are inexpensive. Replace any that are broken, no longer hold a plug securely, feel hot to the touch, or spark or make noise when inserting or removing a plug.
  • Replace broken faceplates so you don’t accidentally touch a plug to a live portion of the receptacle.
  • Never alter a polarized plug to make it fit into an old unpolarized receptacle.
  • If you must use a grounding adapter, first verify that the receptacle is grounded (use a neon tester, the simple directions are on the package), then be sure to secure the tab on the adapterunder the coverplate screw.
  • Do not use a multi-plug adapter for extended periods of time. If you need more receptacles, add a new receptacle (and circuit, if necessary).
  • When replacing a receptacle, make sure the new one is properly rated—never install a 20-amp receptacle on a 15-amp circuit.
  • Never install a three-slot receptacle where there is no ground available, unless it is a GFCI receptacle. While it would be better to run a ground wire and install a properly grounded receptacle if there is a need for one, the next best thing is to install a GFCI. While it won’t be grounded, it will provide some degree of shock protection.
  • Use lockout receptacles or childproof plugs if young children will be present.



The purpose of a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) is to prevent shocks; they are code-required in wet areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and laundry rooms. That’s because even on a grounded wiring system, electricity can leak from the hot lead without tripping the circuit breaker. If that happened while you were particularly well grounded (turning off a faucet while turning on a defective hair dryer, for example), the result could be fatal.

A GFCI device constantly monitors current levels on the hot and neutral sides of a circuit. If the GFCI senses an imbalance of just 1/2000 of an amp, it trips the circuit in 1/40 of a second or less.


Testing a GFCI receptacle

gfciPlug a radio, hairdryer, or other appliance into the GFCI, turn the appliance

on, then press the test button. The receptacle should shut itself off. If it doesn’t, press the test button again. If it still doesn’t shut off, the

receptacle needs to be replaced. By the way, don’t be too surprised if the receptacle doesn’t shut off. It’s estimated that up to 25 percent of all GFCIs in this country are malfunctioning due to power surges or lightening strikes. If the receptacle did pass its test, press the reset button; the power should come back on.



According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, problems in home wiring, like arcing and sparking, are associated with more than 40,000 home fires each year. These fires claim over 350 lives and injure 1,400 victims annually. A new product, the arc-fault circuit interrupter, also referred to as either an AFCI or an arc-fault breaker, is designed to trip in response to heavy arcing. The latest edition of the National Electric Code requires AFCI protection for bedroom circuits in new construction starting January 2002. These breakers, available in both 15- and 20-amp versions, should be installed by a pro.Typical situations in which an arc fault may occur include damaged wire insulation, loose connections at the receptacle or the box, damaged or worn appliance cords, and damaged or worn extension cords.

Hometime features step-by-step information to home improvement, remodeling, and repair. Projects include decks, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, landscaping, gardening, plumbing, electrical, home workshop, and more

Source: Home Safety – Electrical Safety