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The Home Depot

10 Ways Not to Electrocute Yourself

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Electrical > 10 Ways Not to Electrocute Yourself
10 Ways Not to Electrocute Yourself

The biggest danger with electricity is that because it pervades every aspect of our lives, we take it for granted. The world as we know it would not exist without electricity and we can’t do without it. Electricity is, in itself, not dangerous. But if it is handled without the care and respect that such a powerful force deserves, it can be lethal.


The statistics on home fires and the billions of dollars of loss that they cause is appalling. And most of them are caused by electrical problems. The number of deaths from these fires is also frightening. Electricity does not have to start fires to be lethal. Accidental electrocution claims a huge number of lives each year. If you are not familiar with working with electricity and feel the need to undertake repairs yourself, the first thing you must do is understand the safety precaution you need to take. And even if you are used to working with electricity, it’s easy to take safety for granted and hurt yourself. Brushing up on the basic safety issues is never a bad thing.


If you are facing electrical problems in your home and are in need of professional help to get the repairs done, online search listings will provide you with information on electrician and electrical experts in your area. And if you do decide to try to fix the problems yourself, here are 10 ways not to electrocute yourself while working with electricity.

  1. 1.Educate yourself

    In the matter of electricity positive does not mean good and negative does not mean bad – these terms refer to the way electricity flows. Any instruction manual for electrical installation or repairs is full of technical terms that you need to know – circuit breakers, ground, single phase, three phases, and much more. Never undertake any electrical work unless you completely understand the instructions for the job.

  2. 2.Shut everything down

    Just turning off the switch of the light or outlet you will be working on or where you are doing an installation is not enough. Current can still pass through the wires. Shut off everything that supplies power to the part of the house you are working in. That means turning off all the switches, shutting off circuit breakers, and removing the fuses.

  3. 3.Check for water

    Water is a fantastic conductor of electricity. Never work in wet or even damp surroundings or with anything that is electrical and wet. It’s the easiest way to experience a shock. If there is water or dampness present, wait for it to completely dry before starting any work.

  4. 4.Wear rubber gloves

    Rubber is among the best insulation materials. Always were rubber gloves when working with electricity so that if you do come into contact with a live circuit, you are insulated from receiving any electrical shock. Use proper electrician gloves, not the thin ones that some people use for washing dishes!

  5. 5.Take your rings off

    Metal is a sterling conductor of electricity and any ring you may have on your hand will increase the flow of electricity into your body if it comes into contact with a live wire. In fact, taking off your watch and any bracelets or other metal objects on your arms is a prudent idea.

  6. 6.Be careful of overloaded sockets

    An overloaded socket can become very hot and burn away insulation. If you are lucky, touching an overloaded socket will leave you with just a few singed fingers. If you are not so lucky, you could be in for a serious shock.

  7. 7.Check circuits for residual electricity

    Even after all the circuit breakers have been turned off and fuses removed, some amount of electricity may still remain in the wiring, waiting for someplace to go. And if it can go into your body, it will jump at the chance. Always check wires with a multi meter to ensure that no current remains. Make sure you know how to use the multi meter – it will have many settings for different purposes – and read the output correctly.

  8. 8.Check for frayed or damaged wires

    Always look & check carefully for frayed insulation and damaged wires. Not only could you experience a shock from touching them, the electricity could leach out and if there is any conducting material around, you could become shocked from touching that.

  9. 9.Use the right ladder

    Electrical repairs and installation often need to be done at some height above ground level and using a ladder is necessary. If you do need to use a ladder, do not use one made from aluminum or any other metal. If you do come into contact with electricity the metal you are standing on will close the circuit and the current will pass through your body, electrocuting you. Always use a fiberglass ladder since fiberglass does not conduct electricity.

  10. 10.A tip from the Pros

    When it is possible, conduct electrical work with only your right hand, keeping your left on in your pants pocket. That way, if you do get a shock, the current will pass through your right hand into the ground instead of traveling from hand to hand and going through the heart. Next time you see an electrician work with only his right hand, you’ll know he is not being lazy or careless – he is being careful.

Doing your own electrical repairs and installation or modifications can be a very satisfying job as well as a considerable money saver. But the risk of electrocution should never be ignored. Even 110 volts can cause a fatal shock. Always observe not just these basic safety precautions, but all the others that are to be found in books on electrical safety. And when in doubt, stop and call in an expert to complete the job. The cost of an electrician is much less than a hospital stay and with so many people now having health insurance, good luck on gaining access to a doctor.

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