10 Electrical Safety Tips for the Home

Jalesa Campbell
Updated Feb 24, 2021
2 min read
While electrical burns may not be as commonly heard of compared to thermal burns, making sure you and your loved ones are safe while using electrical appliances is essential. The American Burn Association reports that over 73% of burn injuries actually happen right at home.

In honor of National Burn Awareness Week, observed during the first full week of February, we provide a detailed list of ten electrical safety tips for the home.

What Causes an Electrical Burn?

Electrical burns can occur when coming into contact with faulty appliances, home wiring, power lines, and lightning.

While using appliances, take note if it malfunctions or stops working unexpectedly. To see if the appliance is faulty, you can check it with a multimeter to help keep you and family members safe.

If you’re doing any home renovation work or drilling, you’ll want to be careful to avoid areas where there could be home wiring. Typically, the wiring inside your home’s walls are found near power sockets. You don’t want to run the risk of electrocuting yourself or causing damage to the wires, so you’ll need to be careful.

[ Read: Different Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Uses ] 

When working outside on a ladder or near power lines, take note so that you don’t come into contact with the wires. If you see any downed power lines, do not bother them as they could be live. Instead, call your local utility company to come out and move them.

During storms, it’s better to stay inside and out of the elements. While inside during a storm, avoid contact with water and stay away from windows. While lightning can directly hit a house or strike an individual, indirect lightning has the potential to cause bodily harm and even lead to death. If you happen to be outdoors during a storm, try to move towards a building and away from trees, open areas, metal, or water.

What are the four types of electrical burns?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), there are four types of electrical burns:

  • Flash.  This type of electrical burn is caused by an arc flash. The current, however, does not move past your skin.
  • Flame.  A flame electrical burn occurs when an arc flash causes material to ignite (i.e., clothing).
  • Lightning.  An electrical burn caused by lightning happens when high voltage passes through the body.
  • True.  A true electrical burn can occur when you or someone else becomes part of a circuit. The current enters and exits the body.

[ Read: Is it Safe to Shower During a Lightning Storm? ] 

10 Electrical Safety Tips for Preventing Shock, Burn, and Injury

  • Keep your household wall sockets covered to prevent any children or babies from getting injured. They are curious and may try to stick objects into the sockets. Consider adding outlet plugs around the home as a safety option as well.
  • Do not use electrical devices or appliances near bodies of water (i.e., in the kitchen or bathroom).
  • Be sure to unplug electrical devices that get hot once you are finished using them (i.e., flat iron, toaster oven, hot plate, etc.)
  • Avoid using frayed power cords. Once you notice damage, it’s time to replace the cord or entire device.
  • Don’t overload a power strip with multiple cords, and avoid using a power strip as a permanent solution. Use these for temporary assistance and outlets for permanent solutions.
  • Avoid allowing household objects to lie over power outlets (i.e., blanket, curtains, etc.).
  • Do not plug a space heater into a power strip as they’re not generally made to handle the amount of current the heater needs, which could lead to a fire.
  • Make sure you use light bulbs with the proper wattage for any lights or lamps.
  • Make sure you use outdoor-rated extension cords for outdoor purposes.
  • Instead of pulling on a power cord to remove it, remove the cable by pulling its base.

Electricity is Helpful, But Be Wise

While electricity provides us with many conveniences, it’s always good to be wise while using. This is especially important for parents of small children. Handle electrical devices and appliances properly and be mindful of any potential electrical hazards both in and around the home.

Photos by the American Burn Association / JaysonPhotography / BW Folsom / Shutterstock

Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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