The Los Alamos National Laboratory defines electrical safety as "recognizing hazards associated with the use of electrical energy and taking precautions so that hazards do not produce injury or death." Electrical hazards, according to Los Alamos Lab, include "a dangerous condition such that contact or equipment failure can result in electric shock, arc-flash burn, thermal burn or blast."
Basic electrical safety precautions for homeowners start with knowing where your circuit breaker panel or fuse box is located, such as in a basement or closet. Circuit breakers look like light switches. They automatically trip off to cut power in case of an electrical overload or short circuit. Fuses are screw-in plugs containing a metal link that melts to cut power in response to an overload or short. If a breaker trips or fuse "blows," find the cause before restoring power.
Inspect Outlets, Switches
Inspect electrical outlets and switches annually for trouble signs including cracked or broken parts and discoloration. Also check if they are very hot to the touch. An outlet or switch showing any of these warning signs should be replaced. When replacing an outlet or switch, flip off the breaker or unscrew the fuse for the circuit before starting. Use a noncontact circuit tester to verify that power is no longer flowing. Check all power cords, outlet strips and extension cords frequently. Look for physical damage such as cuts, cracks or frayed insulation on cords and damage to plugs or extension cord outlet housings. Also check for unusual heat. Replace cords showing any of these signs.