Back to top

Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

Electrical Safety Tips for Your Home

Making sure your living space is electrically safe and sound is one of the best things you can do to protect your property, pets and family members. It's essential for helping to prevent home fires, and it's crucial for keeping curious children and pets out of harm's way.

A person plugging in an device into the wall outlet.

Here are some things to help start your safety check:

Cord safety

  • To help avoid injury to children and pets, cover electrical cords with a heavy plastic sleeve. You can also use a bitter-tasting product designed to deter curious kittens and puppies from chewing on cords, which could result in a severe burn or shock.
  • Purchase electrical cords for your home that are approved by an independent testing laboratory. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) lists many reliable choices.
  • Visually inspect electrical cords for cracked, frayed or loose wires. Always replace a cord that feels hot or shows signs of damage. Touching an exposed strand can cause a skin burn or an electric shock. Be sure to turn off the power to the appliance or lighting fixture before removing the cord from the wall socket for repair.
  • Don't run electrical cords under rugs or carpets. Covering them prevents heat from escaping, which can create a fire hazard.
  • Use extension cords as temporary solutions. If you don't have enough receptacle outlets in a room, hire a licensed electrician to add more.
  • Don't overload an extension cord. Use it for one appliance only.
  • Be sure the extension cord or power strip you use is appropriately rated for the products to be plugged in.

Appliance safety

Just as the cords you use to power your appliances should be certified, so should your appliances. This assures you that the blender, vacuum or stove you bring into your home has passed a series of rigorous tests to meet relevant safety standards. Observe these safety tips for home appliances:

  • Plug major appliances directly into the outlets on wall receptacles. It's not safe to use plug strips or extension cords for ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners or similar large appliances.
  • Heat-producing appliances, such as microwaves, space heaters, coffee makers, toasters and irons, draw a lot of electricity. Plug only one heat-producing appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time to prevent the wiring from overheating.
  • Make sure the plugs on all of your appliances and lighting fixtures are completely inserted into the wall sockets when living with kids and pets. A partially exposed plug can cause a shock when touched by small fingers, paws, noses or tongues.

Lighting fixture and light bulb safety

It's important to use the correct light bulb wattage in your fixtures to avoid overheating, which can potentially result in damage to the lighting fixture or the insulation on the electrical supply wires. Look for the sticker on your table lamp or ceiling fixture that indicates the appropriate bulb wattage. Additionally:

  • Always protect light bulbs in the living area of your home, including hallways and closets, with a shade or globe. If a hot bulb comes in contact with fabric or another flammable material, it can create a fire hazard.
  • Don't use halogen lamps in children's play areas. Halogen bulbs can get very hot, and if knocked over during play, they can easily start a fire.

Final Safety Tips

ESFI always recommends that you have any electrical work done by a qualified electrician. This includes small projects as well as large remodels. You should also get a thorough electrical inspection before purchasing a new home. A good final step is to consult with your independent insurance agent to check that your homeowner's policy is up to date and provides sufficient coverage.

Family in the kitchen.

Cover home, auto & more.

Encompass Insurance offers protection for the things that matter most.

Find an agent

The general information contained in The Encompass Blog is provided as a courtesy, and is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this website are subject to periodic change without notice. Information provided on The Encompass Blog is not intended to replace official sources. Although attempts will be made to ensure that the information is accurate and timely, the information is presented "as is" and without warranties. Information contained on The Encompass Blog should not be mistaken for professional advice. Information contained herein should not be considered error-free and should not be used as the exclusive basis for decision-making. Use of website information is strictly voluntary and at the user's sole risk. We encourage you to obtain personal advice from qualified professionals when making decision regarding your specific situation.

Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers. The Encompass Blog does not monitor all linked resources and cannot guarantee their accuracy. Statements, views and opinions included in an independent provider's material are strictly those of the author(s). These views may not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of The Encompass Blog, the Encompass family of companies or its agents, officers or employees.

ECC Monitor: OK