Electrical Safety: Steps for Developing Safe Habits

Electrical pathway illustration

Approach household electricity with caution and respect. Professional electricians routinely take steps to protect themselves against shocks. You need to be just as cautious while doing electrical work.

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Be insulated
The effect of a shock varies according to how much power is present, your physical condition, and how insulated you are. Of these three variables, you have immediate control over insulation. When working with electricity wear rubber-sole shoes, remove jewelry, and keep dry.

If the floor of your work area is damp, put down dry boards or a rubber mat to stand on. Use tools with insulated handles. If you are wearing dry clothes and rubber-sole shoes, receiving a 120-volt shock will grab your attention but probably not harm you. However, if you have a heart condition or are particularly sensitive to shock, the effects could be serious.

If you don't take precautions, you increase your chances of injury from shock. If you are working on a 240-volt circuit, the potential danger is much greater than when working with 120 volts.

Maintain respect for electrical power. Even if you have survived one shock, the next one could be a different story.

Shut off the power
Before starting any electrical project, always shut off power to the circuit. Then test to make sure no power is present in the electrical box or wires.

You may be tempted to skip this step and save a trip to the service panel. Or you may think you can change a receptacle or light fixture without touching any wires. Don't take that risk. It takes only a few moments to protect yourself against shock.


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