Safety Tips

Emergency Preparedness Kit Video

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Keep Pets Safe from Electrical Hazards

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Give a Gift of Safety

Give a gift that keeps on giving to your loved ones this holiday season. Instead of clothes, movies, or the hottest trends, consider giving something a little more unconventional. Try gifts of safety, which are a practical way to show you care.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI):  A GFCI detects an abnormal flow of electricity and shuts off the power, preventing shock or electrocution. GFCIs should be installed in areas near water and come in several different forms:

  • Receptacle – this fits into a standard outlet box. A receptacle GFCI’s price ranges from $5 to $30. This should be installed by a qualified electrician. 
  • Portable – these plug into a receptacle and then devices can be plugged into the GFCI. This type requires no installation. These range in price from $20 to $50. There are also extension cords with built-in GFCIs, which range in price from $25 to $75.  
  • Circuit breaker – these can be installed in a panel box to protect the circuits it supplies. Circuit breaker GFCIs range from $30 to $200 and should be installed by a qualified electrician.

Tamper Resistant Outlets (TROs): For families with young children, consider purchasing them TROs. TROs are wall receptacles that have shutters that stay closed unless a plug with two prongs is inserted into the outlet. A cheaper alternative to TROs is plastic safety caps that can be inserted into an outlet.

The 2008 National Electrical Code requires all new and renovated dwellings to install TROs. So homes built before 2008 are likely not equipped with TROs. TROs cost anywhere from $1 to $10.

Power Strips and Smart Strips: These devices are not only energy efficient gifts, but can also help protect electronics. Choose a power strip that comes with a built-in circuit breaker that will trip if the power strip becomes overloaded. Overloaded power strips can cause shocks and fires.

Also, look for power strips and smart strips that have built-in surge protectors. When the electricity goes out, electronics plugged into power strips are protected from damage that could be caused by the surge of power as it is restored.

Power strips range in price from $6 to $30.

Gift Certificates: Encourage loved ones to take care of their home with gift certificates for electrical safety inspections. Electrical contractors have the equipment and knowledge to identify potential electrical problems, and your gift certificate may find a hidden problem that averts tragedy. The gift certificate may even serve as the extra incentive for a friend who has experienced shocks, electrical sparks, or other electrical problems around the home.

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Choose and Use Extension Cords Safely

Many people have tried to use an electronic device only to find out the cord is too short to reach the outlet. This is where extension cords come into play. They are useful for their practical, cost-effective solutions to these problems, but remember to choose and use extension cords safely.

Extension cords are designed for temporary use. They should not be used as a long-term solution. A qualified electrician can install the necessary wiring and receptacle outlets for a permanent solution.

It is important to choose an extension cord that is properly rated for the environment (indoor or outdoor) and the device(s) you will have plugged into it. Check the packaging on the cord for its rating, size, and wattage, and check the appliance or its user manual for its power usage.

The Safe Electricity program offers safety tips for the use of extension cords both indoors and out:

  • Occasionally check the condition of extension cords. Look for fraying or cracking along the entire length of the cord and for damage to the plug or sockets. Cords used outdoors should be checked more frequently because of the constant wear and tear. Replace any damaged cords. 
  • Be sure to provide some slack in order to prevent tension on the cord.  Tension on any part of the cord can cause damage. 
  • Never remove the grounding pin (or third prong) from an extension cord to make it fit into a two-prong outlet. This is a safety feature designed to protect. Instead of removing the third prong, hire a qualified electrician to install a new outlet. 
  • Do not overload extension cords with too many electronics or power tools. It may cause the cord to overheat and start a fire. If you are going to use the extension cord with two or more appliances, you must add together the wattage rating for all appliances used on the cord to make sure the cord will not become overloaded.
  • Extension cords always conduct electricity when plugged into an outlet, even if it is not being used. Therefore, always unplug the cord when you are finished with it.

Additional tips for indoor use of extension cords:

  • If any part of the extension cord becomes hot while in use, unplug it immediately and discard it.
  • Keep extension cords away from children, pets, and high-traffic areas.
  • Do not place extension cords under carpets, rugs, furniture, or cover with any other objects.

Tips for outdoor use of extension cords:

  • Do not use cords in wet conditions. Water conducts electricity, and working in wet conditions increases the chance of shock or electrocution.
  • When not in use, store extension cords indoors, in a dry area and steady temperature climate.

For more information on electrical safety, visit

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