Body Electric
World of Wires
Dangerous Waters
You've Got the Power
Fire in the Sky
Science and Safety of Electricity and Natural Gas Games
Do the Safe Thing Summary

Here is an overview of electric safety tips.

The Body Electric: Electricity Is Shocking

If you contact the electricity in an appliance, power cord, or power line, you could be seriously injured or killed.

  • Contact with low-voltage electricity (such as from an appliance) can cause a heart attack or muscle spasms that may lock you to the power source.

  • Contact with high-voltage electricity (such as from power lines) often blasts a person clear of the circuit, but the shock or fall can be fatal.

Protect yourself! Spend some time on this website learning about electricity, and how to stay out of its path.

World of Wires: Watch Those Wires

  • When you work outdoors with long or tall equipment (such as ladders and paint rollers), be sure to keep yourself and your equipment at least 3 meters away from all overhead power lines. That includes the service drop wires that go from power poles to buildings.

  • If you plan to dig or move earth in any way (even just planting a tree), make sure to call your one-call utility locator service first so they can mark any underground power lines or other utilities.

  • If you see a fallen power line, stay far away, and call 911 and your local electric utility immediately. Even if they are not sparking or humming, fallen lines can shock you if you touch them or the ground nearby.

  • Transformers and substations contain electrical equipment that is dangerous to contact. If you see an unlocked transformer, or if you see someone trying to enter a substation, call 911 and your local electric utility immediately.

Dangerous Waters: Electricity + Water = Danger

  • Make sure your hands are dry before you touch anything electrical, even if you think it’s turned off. Keep electric cords and appliances away from water, and unplug appliances before cleaning them.

  • Use only a battery-powered radio or boom box near a swimming pool or other wet area.

  • If you see someone using electricity near water, remind them to plug their appliance or equipment into a GFCI-protected outlet or to get a portable GFCI. What’s a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter? Visit “You’re Grounded!” in the Dangerous Waters section.

  • Never use water on an electrical fire. Use a multipurpose fire extinguisher instead.

You’ve Got The Power: Home Safe Home

  • Do a simple inspection inside your home to keep yourself and your family safe. Look for these hazards:

    • Overloaded outlets
    • Worn or frayed power cords
    • Power cords running under rugs or furniture legs
    • Appliances used near water without GFCI protection
    • Circuit breakers that trip or fuses that blow often
    • Heaters or lightbulbs close to anything that can burn
    • Flammable liquids or other materials stored close to appliances

  • Every home should have smoke detectors to alert you in case of fire. Make sure you also have a multipurpose (Class C) fire extinguisher in the house, preferably in the kitchen.

Fire in the Sky: Lightning Tips

  • If a storm is coming or under way, stay indoors. Lightning can travel through wiring and water pipes, so stay away from bathtubs, sinks, corded phones, and anything that uses electricity, like TVs, computers, video games, or appliances. Keep away from windows. Stay indoors for 30 minutes or more after you hear the last thunder.

  • If you must be outside during a storm, stay near proper shelter. Proper shelter is a large, enclosed building with conventional wiring and plumbing. Count the time from when you see lightning to when you hear thunder. If the time is 30 seconds or less, seek shelter. Don’t leave the shelter until 30 minutes or more has elapsed after the last thunder.

  • If you can’t get indoors:

    • Your next best choice is to get into a hardtop car—not a convertible—and roll up the windows. Don’t touch the car frame, steering wheel, ignition, gear shift, or radio. Avoid open vehicles like golf carts (even with roofs), tractors, etc.
    • Avoid trees, tall objects, and anything metal, such as flag poles, metal bleachers, golf clubs, tall light poles, etc.
    • Avoid rivers, lakes, and swimming pools. If you are boating, head to shore.
    • Avoid wide-open areas, including sports fields.