Electrical Safety Tips

Before you tackle any electrical task, review these top safety concerns.
Install a GCFI Outlet to Avoid a Holiday Decorating Disaster

Install a GCFI Outlet to Avoid a Holiday Decorating Disaster

When decorating for the holidays, you want your lights to shine, not sparks to fly! Your source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This type of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is overcurrent. If you don't have a GFCI outlet, a qualified electrician can permanently install one outdoors for holiday seasons to come. You can also opt to buy a portable outdoor unit from your local home store for less than $20.

When installing or using your electrical system, there is always the chance of shock. Now there will be some DIYers who are comfortable with basic wiring practices; however, unless you're absolutely qualified for system installation, DIY recommends you leave the installation of your home's electrical system to licensed electricians.

Not only will a licensed electrician make sure your electrical system meets with all required safety codes, they can also oversee the installation of common safety products. For example, one of the most common items added to your electrical system is a ground fault circuit interruptor -- or GFCIs for short.

By installing a ground fault circuit interruptor -- or ground fault circuit breakers -- you can protect areas that may be moist, such as bathrooms and kitchens. A ground fault interruptor is an electrical device designed to protect you from serious injury due to shock.

GFCIs constantly monitor the electricity flowing in a circuit. Should that current be interrupted for any reason -- or waver by even the slightest amount -- the GFCI will instantly shut down the current flowing through that circuit.

Note: A GFCI will respond to a current variation too small for even a circuit breaker or fuse to detect.

Along with GFCIs there are a number of simple precautions you can take at home that will prevent injuries related to your home's electrical systems. Here's a rundown:

  • Always remove cords from a socket by grabbing the plug. Never tug on an appliance cord. Removing cords in this fashion can lead to fraying, and frayed cords can cause electrical shock.
  • Frayed cords that are under or on carpet can cause a fire and should be replaced or repaired.
  • Always use the recommended wattage bulb in lamps and light fixtures.
  • Avoid using electrical appliances in wet places. If you must work in a wet or damp area, always use a portable GFCI outlet for the needed appliance.
  • Never overload an outlet.

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