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Shocked into reality

By Theresa Trant

Several months ago, after painting the basement, I asked my son to help me remove the masking tape from the exposed electrical outlets. A few minutes later I heard what sounded like a “zap” and then we were under a blanket of darkness.

So what happened?  Well, my son decided to use a screwdriver to dig out a piece of tape inside the outlet. In doing so, he managed to give himself a decent electrical shock and trip the breaker. Not a bright moment in his life or mine.

electrical outlet shock

We learned three important lessons in that short period of time:

1. Don’t put a screwdriver in a live outlet. 🙂

2. If you must use something in the outlet (e.g., to free up masking tape) turn off the breaker.

This sounds like common sense doesn’t it? Yet for some reason common sense was not around us that evening. I think it was because we thought the task was quick and simple so we didn’t take time to think about potential dangers. That brings me to the 3rd important lesson learned:

3. Never assume the person carrying out the task has thought about the potential hazards. Take the time to go through the task and discuss what could go wrong and how to work safely.

Electricity needs to be managed safely. If it isn’t, the cost to you could be devastating. Here are some handy tips on electrical safety:

  •  Ensure any exposed receptacle boxes are non-conductive. Touching a receptacle box made of conductive materials can cause shock or electrocution.
  •  Make sure you know where all of the breakers are located in case of emergency.
  •  Make sure circuit breakers and fuse boxes are marked clearly. Every switch should properly identify which appliance or outlet it supplies.
  •  Never use cords or outlets with exposed wiring. Do not just tape up the exposed wires. Replace the cord, or have the outlet repaired right away.
  •  You can find more tips at:

This short video highlights the wrong and right way of electrical safety:

I’m interested in hearing your electrical safety stories. Comment below or tweet @HeadsUpAB.


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