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Keep your family safe in your home by brushing up on how to use electricity safely and by periodically giving your home an electrical checkup:
Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets within reach of children.
Make sure cords are in good condition—not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are out of traffic areas where people could trip over them. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to walls, baseboards or any other objects. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest furniture on them.
Check to see that extension cords are not overloaded. Extension cords should be used only on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring. Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help safeguard young children from shock hazards and burn injuries.
Make sure your plugs fit your outlets. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit. Plugs should fit securely into outlets. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Test GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure they are working properly.
Check all bulbs to make sure they are the correct wattage for the fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended; if you don’t know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer of the fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs can overheat.
Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size and current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same correct size fuse.
Don’t leave plugged-in appliances where they might come into contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, never reach in to pull it out—even if it’s turned off. Unplug it first. If you have an appliance that has become wet, don’t use it until it’s been checked by a qualified service technician.
If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
Check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly; look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized safety certification agency.