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25 Safety Tips to Prevent Electrical Hazards at Home

Whether at work or at home, safety is always top of mind for us. Is it for you and your family? In the spirit of National Electrical Safety Month this May, we invite you to refresh your knowledge and know-how when it comes to maintaining electrical safety on a regular basis. Let’s review how we can double check our homes and our habits to minimize risk and help prevent electrical incidents from happening. 

In the living room and bedrooms

Let’s talk outlets…

  • Test your GFCIs – the special outlets with “test” and “reset” buttons – to make sure they’re all functioning properly. These outlets are ultra-sensitive to water and will cut power to the device in milliseconds if any risk is detected.
  • Check that all cover plates are in good condition – replace any missing or cracked plates.
  • If you have young children, use plastic safety covers or tamper-resistant outlets.
  • Call an electrician if any of your outlets are warm to the touch or make any buzzing or crackling noises.
  • Don't overload your outlets – remember, a power strip just adds more outlets; it doesn't change the amount of power that one outlet can provide.

Let’s talk wires…

  • Keep cords out of walking areas, to prevent tripping, and do not have any furniture pressing on them.
  • Make sure all cords are not frayed, dented, or damaged in any way.
  • Check for tightly wrapped cords; this can lead to overheating and be a fire risk.
  • Extension cords should only be used temporarily or intermittently – not on a permanent basis.
  • Extension cords should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, not into an outlet on a power strip.
  • Never double up when it comes to extension cords; using two together can cause overheating and be a fire hazard.

In the kitchen

  • Keep appliances away from water.
  • Don’t switch the garbage disposal on/off with wet hands.
  • To avoid overheating, be sure your appliances have plenty of space around them for air circulation.
  • Make sure the exhaust fans in your appliances are clean to avoid overheating and/or an accumulation of dangerous gases.
  • Turn off appliances before unplugging and never unplug by pulling on the cord – this tip applies to all electrical devices and chargers.

In the basement

  • Label your breaker box correctly, so anyone can access what they need during a potential emergency.
  • Replace breakers that regularly trip, because this could be a sign the circuits are overloaded, or that other electrical hazards might exist.
  • If you don’t already know, ask your electrician if your home is protected by arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs); these are safety devices that replace your standard breakers and greatly reduce the risk of electrical fires.
  • Make sure everyone in your family who is of proper age knows where the main breaker is to turn off all power to the house in case of emergency.

In outdoor spaces

  • If you’re using electricity outside where it may be wet, such as when replacing outdoor light bulbs or trimming trees, always wear shoes that have rubber soles.
  • Mylar balloons might be festive but keep in mind that they are dangerous around power lines due to their silvery metallic coating.
  • Make sure your outdoor outlets have waterproof covers that close automatically.
  • Only use specifically marked outdoor extension cords outside.
  • If you have any intent to dig or excavate, be sure to call Alabama 811 or 800-292-8525 before taking any action. Find out more information here.
  • Never touch a guy wire – these are tension cables used to keep free-standing structures, such as utility poles, stable.   
  • Stay away from pad-mounted transformer boxes. These boxes contain high voltage cables and should always be locked. If you come across an unlocked box, please call Alabama Power or your local utility company, or 911.

The bottom line is, when it comes to preventing incidents, safety and electricity must go hand in hand. These are just some of our tips to help you safeguard your home and protect against electrical hazards. Try running through them as a checklist with the whole family and practice them together every day. But don’t stop there. Our last tip? Check out our entire safety section for even more helpful information!