Have you ever had an electrical ‘goof’ that got out of hand? If you are like most DIY’ers, the answer is yes. Whether it was a malfunctioning outlet, wiring mistake or job that has gone wrong, chances are you have blown a circuit breaker at least once in your life. Electrical safety is as important to the home improvement DHI as woodworking and plumbing tips.
In fact, some say working with electricity can be even trickier than setting up plumbing! That said, there are five things every do-it-yourselfer should know about electrical safety before they begin their next project around the house.
1. Wear Rubber Soled Shoes
According to the top electrical contractor, one of the biggest and easiest mistakes for homeowners is to wear socks or sneakers while working around electrical outlets. In fact, it’s the #1 cause of electrical fires: people wearing wet socks and standing on carpet that has just gotten finished drying from a load of clothes! To stay safe, you should always wear shoes with rubber soles when working near power outlets. That way if your feet do get wet or come in contact with water, no current will pass through your body.
2. Don’t Work Around Outlets While Wet Or Standing In Water
Plumb It Right – Same goes for rooms full of water like bathrooms, pools and saunas. If there is any chance you might get a shock by coming into contact with an outlet while standing in water or being out in the rain, make sure to turn off the circuit breaker or remove the outlet cover.
3. Be Sure That Children Don’t Use Unapproved Extension Cords And Power Strips (Cheaper Models Can Lead To Fires)
Plumb It Right – If your kids often use cheap extension cords or power strips for their electronics and toys, you’ll want to pay more attention than usual if they are plugged in while it’s raining outside. While these units can be tempting because of their low price and small size, cheaper models may not have been manufactured with safety measures preventing current from traveling along the outer casing and travelling out of an outlet. Instead, just buy a quality unit for your kid’s bedroom instead, so nothing happens when it rains.
4. Never Cut Off The Third Prong Of A Grounded Plug
Plumb It Right – In the event of a fire, you may not have enough time to unplug a faulty electrical device like a lamp or hairdryer plugged into a 3 prong outlet. Rather than risking getting electrocuted (three-pronged outlets are grounded), contact an electrician as soon as possible to fix the problem so you can unplug safely and easily.
5. Be Sure That Extension Cords Are Not Behind Furniture Or Objects With Sharp Points
Plumb It Right – If there is no room behind your sofa or another large piece of furniture for you to pass an extension cord, consider using more than one extension cord. If it’s inevitable that the cord will be behind the furniture, make sure to wrap it loosely in a large plastic bag and tape it down so no one can stumble onto it!
Don’t forget to talk about these safety issues with your family before starting any electrical project at home. If you do, everyone will be safe, and you can easily complete your next DIY project.