10 Absolutely Easy Ways to Prevent Home Electrical Hazards

The convenience of electricity is so much part of our everyday life that it can be easy to forget that electrical hazards at home can pose a major threat to your safety. It’s very important to know how to avoid common home electrical hazards. 

The main dangers of electricity at home – fire and electric shock – can be lethal in the absence of basic safety measures.

10 Absolutely Easy Ways to Prevent Home Electrical Hazards 

What Are Some Electrical Hazards?

Electrical issues are one of the leading causes of house fires in Canada.

According to the province’s Injury Research and Prevention Unit, more than 2,600 electrical fires in homes in British Columbia from 2004 to 2017 killed or injured 150 people and caused over $150 million in damage.

While there’s always a danger of sustaining burns in a fire sparked by incorrect household electrical safety, asphyxiation poses an even greater risk. Most deaths in house fires are caused by smoke inhalation.

Electric shock is the other major electrical hazard at home, and can result in:

Death through heart failure.

Nerve damage.

Understanding the inherent dangers of using electricity and recognizing common electrical hazards at home will go a long way toward keeping your family and your property safe – so here are 10 simple ways to avoid electrical hazards in the home.


kitchen appliance safety

1. Keep Electrical Appliances Dry

Electricity and water can be a deadly combination, resulting in electrocution. Keep electrical appliances well away from water and moisture.

If you happen to drop an electrical device into water when you’re using it, shut off the power supply at your home’s electrical panel before unplugging the appliance or trying to retrieve it. It’s also a good idea to get the device checked by an appliance technician to make sure it’s still safe to use once it’s dried out.

Never use power tools in wet conditions if you’re doing jobs outside the house.


electrical hazards at home

2. Make Sure Your Electrical Outlets Are Safe

Electrical safety outlet covers reduce electrical hazards at home if you have young children.

These devices prevent electric shock by preventing kids from sticking their fingers or small objects, such as pins or paper clips, into the outlets.

A better solution is to replace your outlets with Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRR), which are now required by code.

Check outlets for loose plugs that could start a fire or cause shocks, and don’t overload outlets with multiple adaptors and plugs.

Never break off the third prong on a plug to plug it into a two-pronged socket.  Replace two-pronged sockets with three-pronged sockets.


overload outlets overload circuits

3. Fit the Right Bulbs in Light Fixtures and Lamps

When buying light bulbs for your main lighting fixtures or lamps, make sure you get the wattage right.

A bulb greater than the fixture or lamp’s maximum wattage can overload the wiring, posing the risk of overheating and outbreak of fire. For instance, if you have a lamp rated for a maximum of 60 watts, a 100-watt bulb will draw more power through the wires than it can safely handle.

Make sure bulbs fit securely to avoid overheating.

don't yank electrical cord electrical hazard

Hold a plug securely to pull it from the wall. Pulling on the cord can wear the cord out and increase the risk of a short circuit, an electrical shock, or a fire.

4. Safeguard Against Electrical Surges

Switching off electrical equipment like TVs and computers when not in use will safeguard against overheating or a power surge that could cause a fire and damage the electronics.

Consider using a surge protector while equipment is switched on – especially useful if you live in an area with an unstable power supply.

Electrical cord and electrical plug safety

5. Be Careful with Electrical Cords

It can be dangerous to have electrical cords that:

Run under carpets or rugs.

Go across furniture.

Are in high-traffic areas.

Are nailed to a wall.

Inspect your electrical cords periodically to make sure they’re not frayed or otherwise damaged.

Extension cords should only be used as a temporary measure.

Get rid of all cords and plugs that are worn or frayed. 

Don’t Yank Power Cords Out of Wall Sockets. Pull the plug, not the cord. 

prevent common home electrical hazards


6. Make Sure You Have GCFI Protection

According to the Canadian Standards Association, casualties from electric shock have dropped because of increased use of GFCIs – ground fault circuit interrupters.

These devices shut off power immediately if they detect a mismatch between incoming and outgoing current. The Canadian Electrical Code insists that GFCIs are installed in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms.


7. Don’t Ignore Persistent Circuit Breaker Trips

Circuit breakers trip when a short circuit or overload occurs. If this happens continually, it’s a clear sign that something’s amiss that could develop into a major safety issue.

Causes of persistent circuit breaker tripping include:

A faulty appliance.

Old or damaged wiring.

Deterioration of the circuit breakers themselves.

frayed electrical cords

8. Leave Electrical Repairs to the Experts

Falling into the temptation of trying to save a few dollars by doing your own electrical work is a recipe for disaster.

The ever-present risk of electric shock makes it extremely unwise to attempt DIY electrical repairs or rewiring.

There can also be a hidden danger after an amateur electrical job – problems may be lurking in the wiring system that could spark a fire at any time.

DIY repairs or upgrades to a faulty appliance are also dangerous.


9. Be Alert to the Risks of Phoney Electrical Products

Counterfeit goods that don’t satisfy electrical safety requirements may be highly dangerous. Look for electrical products with an official certification mark such as CSA (Canadian Standards Association).


Electrical Safety Inspection

10. Get a Professional Electrical Safety Inspection

If you suspect a problem with your home’s wiring system, an electrical safety inspection and risk assessment is essential for your peace of mind, your family’s well-being, and your property’s safety.

If your home has aluminum wiring, an electrical safety evaluation is recommended at least every five years.




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