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Electrical Safety

Some of the most popular projects do-it-yourselfers tackle around the house involve electricity. For example... replacing a light switch, outlet, or light fixture.

The first thing to remember is safety. Because the human body can be a fairly decent conductor of electricity, the danger of getting an electric shock increases greatly when part of the body gets between the electrical current and the ground. If electricity flows through the heart, even the tiny amount of current it takes to light a Christmas tree bulb can be lethal.

For that reason, you should always turn off the power before working on anything electrical. Turning off a individual circuit or the entire house can be done at the service panel by removing a fuse or switching a circuit breaker to the off position. Never depend on a wall switch to disconnect electricity before working!

While you're at the service panel, this extra safety measure can help prevent disaster: Tape a note on the panel to tell others what you're doing so no one will come along and replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker while your working. As an added precaution, you may want to take the fuse with you or tape the circuit breaker in its off position.

Since more than one circuit may be supplying power to an outlet, you should always test it with a light or something to make sure that the area you are working on is no longer a threat.

With the electricity turned off, you can work in complete safety. But it's still a good idea to keep these additional safety precautions in mind.

Remember that water and electricity don't mix. Never work on wiring, fixtures, switches, outlets or appliances when you're wet or standing on a damp spot. Lay down dry boards to stand on if the floor or ground is wet.

When working with electricity, keep children and pets away from the work area. It's also a good idea to remove metal jewelry and watches.

And, be sure your work area is well lighted. A battery powered light is the best choice, or you can bring in an extension cord from another part of the house.

Before making changes or additions to home wiring, for safety and accuracy, check the electrical codes in your area before beginning.

Do not guess when working around electricity. If you run into problems or don't understand something, check with a licensed electrician.


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