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Electrical safety for DYI jobs  Smart Choices Archive

Electrical safety for DYI jobs

Take care when using electricity for completing DIY projects.


If you are a homeowner, you know that there is always a project to complete around the house. Building a new deck, remodeling the basement, fixing the garage door, planting a tree…the list seems endless.

There is one item that needs to be at the top of your list, no matter the project, and that is electrical safety.  

Safety tips to keep in mind when tackling DIY projects include:

  • Take a few minutes to prepare for the job. Make sure you have the right tools for the job, and check cords for any cracks or frayed insulation and proper connections.
  • Take note of potential hazards in the work area. Be sure to look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning poles; when installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes; or when doing roof repair work.
  • Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from lines. Never trim trees near power lines – leave that to the professionals. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor. 
  • Use only extension cords that are rated for outdoor use when working outside. Keep your work area tidy and do not allow your power cords to tangle.
  • Use heavy-duty, three-prong extension cords for tools with three-prong plugs. Never remove or bend back the third prong on extension cords. It is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of electrocution or shock.
  • If your projects include digging, like building a deck or planting a tree, call 8-1-1 to have utility lines marked before you begin. Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. This service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted, and can help you avoid serious injury.
  • Electricity + water = danger. If it is raining or the ground is wet, do not use electric power or yard tools. Never use electrical appliances or touch circuit breakers or fuses when you are wet or standing in water. Keep electric equipment at least 10 feet from wet areas.
  • Make sure outdoor outlets are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If your outdoor outlets do not have them, use a portable GFCI. It is also a good idea to have GFCIs professionally installed in wet areas of the home—such as the kitchen, bath, and laundry.

For more information on staying safe around electricity while you complete your DIY project, visit


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