Home Safety
Learn how to use electricity safely in your home.

How electricity works

Electric safety is mainly an exercise in common sense, but it helps to know some fundamentals of how electricity works.

Then, use these guidelines around the home and see our outdoor safety rules, too.

Water & electricity don’t mix!

Electricity is always seeking a path to the ground through water, trees, metal, wood, concrete, as well as people and animals. These things don’t have to touch a wire to electrocute you, so always keep yourself and your equipment at least 20 feet away from power lines. It’s not only safe, it’s also the law.

Plugs, cords & appliances

Breaker or fuse boxes control electric circuits in your home and are protective devices. If you can’t explain a circuit “trip,” call an electrician and never “cheat” a fuse box with a penny — you’re only inviting the possibility of fire.

  • Cut, punctured or scuffed electric cords are dangerous! Replace them immediately.

  • Never run a cord under a rug or through a wet area.

  • Three-pronged plugs are essential. The third prong is there to ground the wire and prevent shocks, so never tamper with it.

  • If an appliance sputters, sparks or buzzes, turn it off and get it fixed. Make sure any electric appliance you purchase has the Underwriters Laboratory tag or label (UL Approved).

  • Never overload a circuit or daisy-chain power strips. This invites danger by overloading the circuit.

  • Make sure any portable space heaters have a protective shut-off if tipped.

  • Never use space heaters near curtains or flammable material.

  • It still happens: People stick forks in toasters while the toaster is working. Always unplug or turn off any appliance before working with it.

Tree maintenance

Get tips on how to maintain your trees and shrubbery safely around power lines.

Plan for medical needs

Use medical life-support equipment? Have a plan in place and consider a backup generator in case of an extended power outage.

Kids’ safety education

Show your kids how to use electricity safely and check out our free electricity education resources for families and teachers.

Electric & magnetic fields

What you should know about EMF safety and research