Many homeowners are capable of replacing light switches, installing ceiling fans and other basic wiring jobs, but safety experts warn do-it-yourselfers against dabbling in most elements of household electricity. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, home-based electrical systems cause nearly 55,000 fires a year, resulting in more than 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries. Electrical fires cost $1.4 billion a year in property damage.
Whenever working with electricity, remember these tips:
- Always assume overhead wires are live and fatal to the touch. If a limb falls on one during a storm, leave it alone and call the utility company.
- Never operate electrical equipment in or near standing water.
- Never repair electrical equipment without proper training.
- Have a qualified electrician inspect electrical equipment if it has come into contact with water.
- Use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in any area that comes in contact with moisture.