Knowing your way around your home’s electrical system can greatly increase your sense of safety. If you haven’t done so already, learn which circuit breakers (or fuses) control the various light circuits, outlets and high energy appliances in your home. Identify each of the circuits on the main control panel with a name tag so that you can quickly spot trouble, or disconnect a circuit when necessary.
High energy appliances like refrigerators, electric stoves and microwave ovens need separate outlets to insure safe and efficient operation. Limit the number of appliances you plug into any one outlet so you don’t overload the circuit.
Whenever you need to clean or repair an electrical appliance – including prying that piece of toast out of the toaster – always unplug the appliance first, or shut down the circuit at the main control panel. Also, be sure to dry your hands thoroughly before you touch any part of anything that’s plugged in – including the cord. Make sure the floor beneath you is dry.
Periodically, you should inspect the cords on all of your electrical devices for wear or other damage. Also, if your vacuum cleaner has a beater-bar or power-head, always use caution when vacuuming near floor lamp and extension cords. Some vacuum units are powerful enough to chew through the cord’s plastic sheath and expose the wires which could immediately create a shock or fire hazard.
For many of us, electricity is the magic genie that brings comfort and convenience to our lives. Taking a little time to make sure that the genie is safely contained and not overloaded can help prevent the kind of surprise that no one wishes for.