Bob's blog‎ > ‎

Room by Room: Home Electrical Safety

posted Feb 16, 2011, 5:16 AM by Bob Wallace

Power cord and outlet
Electricity is a safe and reliable form of energy that is used every day to power equipment and appliances in our homes. Each year, however, hundreds of people die and thousands more are injured in accidents that could have been avoided. The following is a checklist of items that you can use throughout your home to help protect your family. 

Whole House

  • In overhead light fixtures and lamps, make sure light bulbs are the appropriate wattage.
  • Make sure portable heaters are stable and placed at least three feet from walls and other objects.
  • Cover all outlets with faceplates that fit snugly to walls.
  • If small children are present, install covers on all unused outlets.
  • Keep electrical cords away from foot traffic and make sure that they are not covered by rugs or furniture.
  • Do not use extension cords on a permanent basis. Install extra outlets or move the electrical devices closer to outlets.


  • Unplug countertop appliances when not in use.
  • Locate appliance cords where they will not come into contact with a heat source, such as the stove or range.
  • Make sure that all outlets in your kitchen are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected outlets. GFCIs monitor the current flowing into circuits and shut it off if they sense an imbalance.


  • Unplug all small appliances when not in use.
  • Never use plugged in devices, such as a radios or hair dryers, in or near the bathtub.
  • Install only GFCI outlets in the bathroom.


  • Avoid drinking water or any other type of liquid when using an electric blanket or heating pad. Do not cover an electric blanket when in use.
  • Make sure electric blankets are in good condition; check for cracks or breaks may indicate damage.


  • Keep the electrical panel free from obstructions. Also, make sure that your hands and the floor are dry before touching the panel.
  • Install GFCIs in outlets located near clothes washers or wash tubs, or all over the basement if it is damp.


  • Install protective covers on all outlets and make sure that all outlets are protected by GFCIs.
  • Make sure power tools are in good condition and that wires are not cracked or frayed.
  • Store power tools indoors to keep them from being damaged by water or excessive heat.
  • Never use power tools or electrical devices near a pond or other wet location.
  • When working outdoors, only use weather resistant, heavy-gauge extension cords marked for outdoor use.
  • Power lines may be underground as well. Before digging, call 811 to have utility lines marked.

This list is for informational purposes only and is not meant to supersede any state or local building codes. Contact your state fire marshal or local building inspector for any information regarding code requirements in your area. Remember that common sense and good safety habits are the best protection against electrical hazards.