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Basic Electric Safety

Stay Safe All Year Long

By Megan McKoy-Noe

When a light goes out, it’s hard not to notice the bulb needs to be replaced (unless you like to stay in the dark). But how can you tell if your power outlets are working properly? You don’t want an electrical fire to serve as your wake-up call that’s something is amiss.

“Many homes are equipped with new technologies to help prevent electrical fires and injuries,” explains Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). “Unlike a lightbulb that goes dark when it needs to be replaced, there may not be any indication when these safety features aren’t working properly. That’s why ESFI recommends testing them every month.”

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets and combination-type arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) circuit breakers are just some of the many safety features in your home that need regular attention. 

“It’s possible an outlet or circuit may work, but the protection isn’t there—the only way to know is to push the ‘test’ button,” notes Brenner.

May is National Electrical Safety Month, a time when [electric cooperatives/public power districts/public utility districts] educate consumers on ways to stay safe at home and on the job. But safety awareness shouldn’t stop on May 31.

ESFI provides a Home Safety Calendar to help you remember when to perform routine maintenance and safety checks around the house. Some things, like vacuuming coils and changing furnace or air conditioning filters, should be done every three months. Other items, like testing GFCI outlets and smoke alarms, need to happen monthly.

“Taking care of these safety items on the first of the month when you’re paying bills is a great time to knock a few things off the list. Then you don’t have to worry about them for the rest of the month,” recommends Brenner. “We created the calendar so you can put it on your refrigerator as daily reminder of simple steps to take every month to keep your family safe!”

  • Print out a calendar for home by clicking HERE.
  • Learn more about home electrical safety by visiting ESFI’s Virtual Home at



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