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Stay Safe by Preventing Electrical Shock

July 16, 2014
by dmirza

If you’ve ever brushed a metal surface on a dry day, you know that electric shocks can hurt, even small ones. However, the electric shock you get from touching a metal surface on a dry day pales in comparison to the shock you could get from an electrical outlet, service box, or appliance. Young children can be especially vulnerable to electrical shocks from outlets if they stick anything metal into one. Over 30,000 non-fatal shocks occur per year, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation. With these simple tips, you can avoid being among those numbers.


  1. Outlets — Cover electrical outlets with plastic covers that insert into the socket, preventing anything else from being inserted. Inserting a piece of metal into an uncovered socket can produce a potentially deadly spark.
  2. Infrastructure — Understanding how the wiring of your home works and is laid out is important. Inside your junction box, you should find a chart listing what circuit breaker controls what outlets in your home. You also don’t want to plug in appliances or power tools to outlets that cannot handle the draw of electricity. Same principle applies to the bulbs you put into lamps. You don’t want to put a bulb with a high wattage into a lamp that is above the maximum wattage of your lamp.
  3. Upgrades — Old equipment with damaged wiring, short circuits, or any other electrical problems should be upgraded and replaced. If there are any exposed or frayed wires around the house, have an electrician examine them and remove or replace them if necessary.
  4. Cords and Wires — Don’t leave cords or wires laying about where people or pets can trip on them. This is a sure fire way to damage the wires or prongs of the plug, thus presenting a shock or even fire hazard.
  5. Overloads —  Prevent overloading your outlets and power strips by ensuring they can handle the devices plugged into them. Avoid plugging heavy use appliances like refrigerators and microwaves into the same outlets, as the extra drain can blow a fuse or start an electrical fire.
  6. Water — Water conducts electricity extremely well and should be kept away from all electrical devices. Keep items like hair dryers, curling irons, toasters, and any other appliances that could be used near a sink away from water.
  7. Electrical Work — Performing your own electrical work may seem like a good way to save money, but it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Still, if you plan to be a DIY electrician, shut off the power to any outlets or switches you will be working on. Do not wear any metal jewelry or loose clothing that could catch on a wire, but do wear protective gloves, goggles, and boots. If someone is helping you, always double check to ensure the power is completely off where you are working.
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