Electrical shock occurs when a person comes in contact with an electrical energy source.  About 1,000 people a year die from electrical shock.  While most of these deaths are job-related, some do occur in the home.  With proper precautions, many of those could have been avoided.  So here are some tips on how to avoid potentially fatal electrical shocks.

  1. Hire a professional.  The easiest way to make sure you are not the victim of electrical shock is not to mess with electricity.  Unless you are really sure of what you are doing (not just kind of sure), hire a professional electrician.
  2. Shut off all power.  Make sure the electricity is not flowing to the circuit or device you are working on.  Check yourself.  Don’t assume somebody else has shut it off.  And test the circuit to make sure it is really off.  If you are working on an appliance, make sure it is turned off and unplugged.
  3. Ladders.  If you need to use a ladder, do not use an aluminum ladder.  Instead, use an insulated fiberglass ladder.
  4. Avoid water.  Avoid wet areas when working with electricity.  Water is a wonderful conductor, and you don’t want to find that out first hand.  If you need to be in or near water, wear rubber boots and gloves. Also, always make sure your hands are dry when handling appliances.  And make sure you do not touch appliances that are wet.
  5. Use GFCIs.  Make sure there is Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) where there is water.  GFCIs can either be installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord to avoid electrical shocks.  GFCIs stop the flow of power if the current flowing into a circuit differs from the current flowing out.
  6. Cover sockets and outlets.  This is not only important for child-proofing a house, but it makes sense to prevent adults from being injured.
  7. Replace worn or damaged equipment.  Some signs that the equipment needs to be replaced include:
    a. Sparking
    b. Small shocks
    c. Frayed or damaged cords
    d. Heat from outlets
    e. Repeated short-circuiting
  8. Fire extinguisher.  Always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of an electrical (or any other type) of fire.