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  • Writer's pictureDr. Steven Horwitz

Electric Shock Safety

The Texas Department of Insurance publishes Safety @ Work, a great safety newsletter.

May Is National Electrical Safety Month. The tips in the newsletter are helpful for homeowners as well.

Some additional thoughts for the homeowner or apartment dweller:

Circuit Breaker: Know where your circuit breaker (breaker panel) is and how to use it. It is the connection between the power grid outside of your home and the wiring inside that ensures that all the electrical outlets, appliances, lights, heating, and more get the necessary power. Power comes into the breaker box from the outside through what is known as a service drop, either from buried power lines or power poles. From there electricity is routed to branch circuits that power your home.

The circuit breakers perform an important safety function by shutting off power when an overload (think thunderstorm) occurs. That’s why you may have experienced a circuit breaker tripping (shutting off) when you’ve plugged in one too many appliances in your kitchen.

Breakers are meant to protect your home against electrical fires. When your breaker stops functioning properly, you are potentially putting yourself at risk of a fire sparked by a short-circuit.

Your circuit breaker may be in your garage, basement, utility closet, kitchen pantry, or even an exterior wall.

The single switch at the top of the panel is the main breaker. It is normally set to on. Flipping it to off will shut all the power to your home. There are typically two rows of numbered switches called breakers. Each breaker controls a single circuit in your home. The breakers are normally set to ON, which allows power to flow through the circuit. If the switch is set to OFF power will not enter the circuit. Many times these are not labelled making it very difficult to determine which breaker supplies a specific area or device in your home.

Is Your Panel Doing the Job? See this list. Any or all are reasons to get professional help.

  • You still have a fuse box

  • Black spots or scorched areas on the panel or wall outlets

  • Burning smells near the panel

  • Wiring that appears melted

  • Hissing sounds or hot surfaces

  • Flickering or dimming lights

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