DIY-headingTis the season for tackling household projects that have accumulated on your to-do list. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) experts everywhere are dusting off their tool belts, power tools and lawn equipment. At the top of your list, we encourage you to include a review of household electrical safety.

Many people take the dangers of household electricity for granted. What can start out as a simple repair can turn deadly with just one mistake. The wiring around your home carries 120 volts of electricity. That is considerably less than the power lines along our roads and highways, but enough to be lethal. Never underestimate the importance of knowing what to do and how to do it safely.

Do-it-yourselfers often learn new skills from friends, neighbors and family members. If you get faulty advice on landscaping, the result is simply a misplaced plant or patchy grass. But poor electrical advice could endanger your life. Unlike some home improvement projects you can do with a few friends, electrical work demands your undivided attention. Even individuals who know the fundamentals and the dangers can make hazardous mistakes if they aren’t focused on the task.

Your breaker box is the hub of all things electrical in your home. Consider taking some time this season to ensure that everything is labeled properly. Over the years, many homeowners add new appliances or make changes to their home’s wiring without updating breaker labels. And when you turn off a breaker, always test the circuit by turning on lights or plugging something into an outlet to ensure you’ve disconnected the proper circuit.

If you feel you’ve mastered electrical safety, don’t neglect other safety measures associated with your home improvement projects. Unlike metal ladders, wood and fiberglass ladders don’t conduct electricity. It’s an investment that could save your life. Take a moment to inspect the cords on your tools and your extension cords. If a tool or cord has any exposed wires, it’s time to invest in a new one. Do not simply cover the area with tape or attempt to repair it on your own. And always call 811 to have underground utilities located before you begin a project that involves digging.

Among the best advice we can give homeowners is to know when a project has extended beyond your knowledge. Know when to call a professional. Sure, it might be painful to write that check, but the price is worth your safety.