According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical cords and temporary wiring account for over 25% of the estimated 81,000 electrical system fires that occur each year. The risk of fires can be reduced by following these essential home electrical safety tips.
Extension cord safety rules
- Don't use extension cords as a substitute for repairing building wiring.
- Inspect extension cords for broken connectors, damaged insulation and missing hardware before each use.
- Do not run extension cords through walls, over beams, around corners or through doorways.
- Only use extension cords approved for the environment and loads expected.
- Equip extension cords with ground fault interruption (GFI) devices.
- Dont use coiled extension cords.
- Discard damaged extension cords; don't try to repair them.
- Use only surge protected power strips. Inspect the power strips regularly for damage or signs of overloading.
Temporary wiring safety rules
- Don't substitute temporary and flexible wiring for repairing building wiring.
- Use temporary wiring only when needed for maintenance, repair or demolition activities.
- Limit temporary wiring for holiday or ornamental lighting to no more than 90 days.
- In outdoor settings use only outdoor approved temporary wiring and extension cords.
- Don't route temporary wiring across floors, around doors or through walls.
- Locate temporary wiring at least 7 feet above any walking or working surface.
- Protect temporary wiring from sharp edges, heat and sunlight to avoid breakdown of the insulation.
Equipment power cords safety rules
- Inspect equipment cords for damage before each use.
- Don't operate equipment cords without a ground connection unless they are double insulated.
- Don't splice equipment cords to repair damage or to extend the original length.
Routinely inspect and perform maintenance on electrical equipment
- Lock out or tag all electrical equipment or lines while they are being serviced, maintained or adjusted.
- Inspect all electrical appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, to ensure they’re properly grounded. Cords that are frayed or damaged should be removed and replaced immediately, not spliced or taped. Shut down main power source when replacing fuses.
Safeguards to install on electrical equipment
- Write the purpose of each circuit breaker, fuse, or switch on the panel board.
- Label all disconnecting switches and circuit breakers.
- Consider upgrading outdated circuit breakers.
- Make sure there is sufficient access and working space around all electrical equipment for safe operation and maintenance.
- Cover all unused electrical openings (including conduit knockouts) with electrical enclosures and fittings.
Even if you take all the above electrical safety precautions, it's still a good idea to have the right protection in the case of a fire. Learn more about how homeowners insurance can protect you and your home from the unexpected.