Our homes are full of electrical appliances and devices. Take a few minutes to look around for potential safety hazards.

Inside the home

  • Don’t yank electrical cords from the wall – this can damage both the plug and the outlet.
  • Cover all electrical outlets and wall switches with cover plates. Replace any that are damaged.
  • Use extension cords and “cheater” plugs only on a temporary basis.
  • Don’t plug one extension cord into another.
  • Use a quality surge protector with enough sockets for every component.
  • Keep all electrical devices away from water.
  • If you’re working on the fuse or breaker switch, flag it so no one else touches it.
  • Don’t attach a cord to another surface with nails or staples – it can damage the insulation.
  • Don’t use damaged or brittle electrical cords, even if bare wires aren't visible.
  • Don’t attempt to fix an electrical appliance or tool while the unit is plugged in.
  • Don’t run cords under furniture – it can damage the insulating cover.
  • Don’t assume the black coating on wires is insulation – it could be just plastic weatherproofing that provides no protection from contact injuries.
  • If there's an electrical fire: If possible, unplug the device or shut off the power at the main service panel. Never use water on an electrical fire – use a multipurpose fire extinguisher. When calling 911, be sure to tell the dispatcher it's an electrical fire.

Outside the home

  • Have GFCI outlets and waterproof covers on all outdoor outlets.
  • Look out for overhead power lines every time you use a ladder or pole. Stay at least 10 feet away from any electrical lines.
  • Call a professional for help trimming trees near power lines.
  • Keep children and pets away from utility equipment, including meters and transformers.
  • Don’t let anyone climb trees or fly kites near power lines.
  • Don’t disguise transformers or meters with paint or bushes – a utility worker might need to work safely around it or find it quickly in an emergency.
  • Don’t tamper with an electric meter (it's dangerous and illegal), and keep it free of ice and snow during the winter.
  • Don’t hang signs on utility poles. Nail, staples or tacks can pose a big danger to workers who must climb the poles.
  • Know how to stay safe around power equipment, substations and work crews.

Childproofing tips

If you have a young child in your family, it’s important to keep those little hands away from dangerous electrical outlets, cords and appliances. These inexpensive and easy to install childproofing products will help your little ones stay safe.

  • Remove the dials on the stove and place protective covers over the control stem. Replace the dial and snap the clear plastic cover over the top.
  • Attach an oven lock to the oven door. Remove the paper from the adhesive tape, and stick the latches to the side and door of the oven.
  • Add a refrigerator locking strap. It installs just like the oven lock with adhesive tape.
  • Move on to the electrical outlets. The easiest method is to place safety plugs into any unused outlets.
  • If you have items you unplug frequently, install a swivel-type outlet protector. The cover rotates to allow easy adult access to the outlet.
  • If your youngsters try to unplug devices, install a snap-on outlet cover.
  • If you have electrical cords dangling within reach of little hands, try a cord shortener - just wind the excess cord around the base and snap on the cover.
  • You can also install cord shorteners for window shades and mini-blinds. Wrap a bit of cord around the base, replace the cover, and wind up the excess cord.

More from this category

Flood safety

Safety cones in flooded street

Walking through a wet or flooded basement can be dangerous. To be safe, you should always assume that basement flood water is energized.

learn more

Cleaning dryer vents

Dryer vent hole on outside of house

Drying clothes takes a lot of energy. Keeping your dryer vent clean makes your appliance more energy efficient.

learn more

Natural gas leaks

Groucho Marx glasses

Although leaks from natural gas lines are rare, it’s important to know the warning signs.

learn more

Take care with power tools

Man using a circular saw

Taking a few minutes to check power tools before and after using will keep them in good working order and will keep you safe.

learn more

Portable generators & space heaters

portable generator

Portable heaters and generators are convenient, but use them with extreme caution.

learn more

Be prepared for bad weather

Flashlight

The best way to weather a storm is to have a safety plan in place ahead of time.

learn more

Aging in place

Adjustable height kitchen sink

Using universal design principals, your home can adapt to your changing lifestyle needs.

learn more

Staying safe around buried gas pipelines

gas line marker flag

If you have buried natural gas lines on your property, make sure you know how to locate and maintain them.

learn more

Carbon monoxide - the invisible enemy

carbon monoxide detector

Find out what causes deadly carbon monoxide poisoning - and how to prevent and detect it.

learn more