Basic Electrical Safety is important, but by no means the end of the road when it comes to adequate protection against electrical hazards. This article on basic electrical safety will by no means make you sufficiently prepared for tasks involving work with or around electricity. Rather, this basic electrical safety discussion will give you a foundation on which to build your knowledge to best protect against the dangers of electrical hazards.

Why is Basic Electrical Safety Important?

Simply put, electricity is dangerous. As such, anyone working with or near electricity should be educated on how to properly prevent basic electrical safety hazards. Unfortunately, this wonderful thing we call electricity can be conducted by human bodies. With greater misfortune still is that when electricity runs through a human body, it can cause severe damage, unlike metals, which upon conduction remain basically unaffected. When a human body conducts electricity, the experience can range from painful shock to fatality. Surprisingly, relatively small currents can have dramatic effects. It is important to understand the difference between voltage and current. A basic analogy for voltage is that it is the electrical equivalent of water pressure. Amperage is like flow of water. A relatively small flow of electricity (amps) at a standard voltage can cause a painful shock. For example, the amount of power that flows into a laptop can be enough.

Basic Electrical Safety Tips

  • Never use electrical tools on damp ground or around water
  • Never place an antenna near power lines
  • Keep a safe distance from pad mounted transformers
  • Never insert anything (especially metal) into an electrical appliance (such as a toaster)
  • Do not overload electrical outlets with too many electrical plugs. Buy one surge protector with many outlets instead of ‘daisy-chaining’ smaller power splitters
  • Wear rubber gloves and rubber boots when working near electrical components.
  • Inspect tools and appliances for wear and damage prior to use
  • Use electrical tape for power cord management, do not use staples
  • Always use the correct size fuse, never use a fuse with a larger amperage allowance than the original
  • When working near power lines, use ladders made of wood instead of metal
  • If you have a bad feeling about some work concerning electricity, stay away!
  • Know where breakers and electrical boxes are in case of an emergency
  • Label circuit breakers clearly
  • Do not use electrical outlets or cords with exposed wiring
  • Do not touch a person or electrical apparatus in the event of an electrical accident. Always disconnect the current first.
  • Do not clean tools with flammable or toxic solvents.
  • Basic electrical safety can mitigate the risk of electrical danger. In the workplace, there should be some documents and guidelines on basic electrical safety available to you. If you spend a good portion of the day working directly with electricity (plugging things into electrical sockets, dealing with power cords, many electrical appliances, etc), you should definitely make sure you are sufficiently educated to prevent harm to yourself and others. Basic electrical safety reminds you that electricity is a force that we have learned to manipulate, but it will never be completely under our control!

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