Electrical safety

Take care when working on DIY home projects
Electrical safety

The economic downturn and popularity of home improvement shows on TV have inspired more homeowners to tackle do-it-yourself projects than ever before.

Faced with declining home values and aging properties, homeowners in some cases may choose not to pay for the services of a licensed electrician. However, most of us don't have the training or experience needed to safely perform electrical work, which increases the risk of injury and electrocution and potentially introduces new dangers.

Working with electricity requires thorough planning and extreme care — cutting corners can be a costly mistake.

For example, electrical outlets cause nearly 4,000 injuries every year in the U.S. And each year, more than 19,700 people are hurt by ceiling fans that are improperly mounted or incorrectly sized.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International strongly recommends hiring a qualified, licensed electrician to perform electrical work in your home. However, if you decide to do it yourself, consider the following important safety tips:

  • Make an effort to learn about your home electrical system so that you can safely navigate and maintain it.
  • Never attempt a project that is beyond your skill level. Calling a professional may help prevent electrical fires, injuries and fatalities.
  • Always turn off the power to the circuit that you plan to work on by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel.
  • Be sure to unplug any lamp or appliance before working on it.
  • Never touch plumbing or gas pipes when performing a do-it-yourself electrical project.

For more tips on treating electricity with care in the home and workplace, visit esfi.org.

Power tools

  • The following guidelines can increase your safety when using power tools:
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) with every power tool to protect against electric shock hazards.
  • When working with electricity, use tools with insulated grips to avoid electrical shock.
  • Always plug power tools into a grounded outlet, unless they are double-insulated.
  • Never use power tools near live electrical wires or water pipes.
  • Do not use power tools without the proper guards.

Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International

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