Electrical Safety

Each year, many Americans are injured in and around their homes. Unsafe conditions such as overloaded circuits and damaged insulation — as well as the misuse of extension cords — can create fire hazards.

Kotzebue Electric Association urges all of our members to take a few minutes to look around their homes or workplace for electrical safety hazards. It does not take much time to check the insulation on a cord, move an appliance away from water, check for correct wattage light bulbs, or to install a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter).

Invest your time. It could prevent an electrical safety hazard and save lives.

Electrical System Inspection

Studies of residential electrical fires show that a majority of serious fires need not have occurred. The conditions that caused the fires probably would have been detected by an electrical inspection. These problems were not detected or corrected because no inspection had been made for several years.

A safety inspection should be performed by a qualified electrical or licensed electrical inspector.

To insure the electrical safety of your home, your electrical inspection should be up-to-date and defects corrected.

To determine when your electrical system was last inspected, examine the door and cover of your electrical panel(s). The panel should contain a label or tag with a date, a signature or initials on it. If there is more than one date, the most recent one should be the date of the last inspection. Do not remove the service-panel cover. This is a job for a qualified electrician.

Light Bulbs

  • Check the wattage of all bulbs in lighting fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture.
  • Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended; if you don’t know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer of the fixture.
  • Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.

Space Heaters

Heaters can cause fires or serious burns if they cause you to trip or if they are knocked over.

  • Relocated heaters away from passageways and flammable materials such as curtains, rugs, furniture or newspaper.
  • Make sure your heater is stable, and is not set on a soft or uneven surface.
  • Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.


  • Check outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire.
  • Replace any broken wall plates.
  • Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.


  • Make sure cords are in good condition — not frayed or cracked. If this is the case, replace them immediately, as damaged cords may cause shock or fire.
  • Make sure all cords are placed out of areas where they may be stepped upon or tripped over. Whenever possible, arrange furniture so that outlets are available for lamps and appliances without the use of extension cords. Extension cords should not be used for permanent wiring. Cords should not be placed underneath carpets or furniture.
  • Do not staple or nail cords to walls. This can damage the cords and could cause shock or fire.


  • Make sure the proper type plug is in each outlet. If you are using three-prong plugs in a room with two-conductor outlets, do not cut off the ground pin (the third/bottom prong) from the plug. This could lead to an electrical shock hazard. A better solution is to use a two-prong adapter, available from your local hardware store.
  • Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit. This could lead to fire or shock. Plugs should fit securely into outlets, and outlets should never be overloaded.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) detects any loss (leakage) of electrical current in a circuit that might be flowing through a person. When such a loss is detected, the GFCI turns electricity off before severe injuries or electrocution can occur. However, painful shock may still be received during the time it takes for the GFCI to cut off the electricity.

GFCI wall outlets should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact, such as the kitchen or bathroom.

Talk with your electrician or call KEA for more information on GFCIs.

Appliances & Tools

Even an appliance that is not turned on, such as a hairdryer, can be potentially hazardous if it is left plugged in. If it falls into water in a sink or bathtub while plugged in, it could electrocute you.

  • Install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection near your kitchen and bathroom sinks to protect against electric shock.
  • Unplug all small appliances when not in use.
  • Never reach into water to get an appliance that has fallen in without being sure the appliance is unplugged.
  • Do not tuck in or cover an electrical blanket while it is in use.
  • Never go to sleep with a heating pad that is turned on.