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Breaker Box Safety Basics We use electricity in our homes throughout the day, but we rarely think about how it gets to the wall outlets or switches. Distribution lines bring electricity to homes and most commonly connect to a house through a service drop. The electricity goes through the meter box to the service panel, which is typically found in a basement or garage. The service panel, often called a breaker box, is where breakers and fuses pro- tect the wires in- side your house from electrical overload.


them installed.


With so much electricity fun- neling out of the breaker box through the rest of the home to your outlets and switches, it is important to not only know how to use a breaker box, but also how to do so safely. In a recent study, the National Fire Protection Asso- ciation estimated 1,350 home fires involved the circuit break- er panel, causing 18 deaths, between 2007 and 2011. Many of these fires could have been prevented with the installation of arc fault circuited interrupters (AFCIs). AFCIs are installed


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If an appliance is mal- functioning, if there is another electrical malfunction in your home, or if the circuit breaker flipped during a power outage, it may be neces- sary to cut off or switch on the power at the breaker


directly in the breaker box and are designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in home electrical wiring. AFCIs detect arcing in the electrical system and switch the electric- ity off.


It is impor- tant to note that AFCIs do not provide protection against all of the pos- sible circuit faults that can cause fires, but they are a significant step forward in electrical fire safety. Contact a qualified elec- trician to have


box. If you must flip a switch at the break box, always re- member to step away and look away. You want to protect your eyes and body just in case an arc should occur.


Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you touch the breaker box while standing in water, it could cause electric shock or death. If you cannot reach your break- er box safety, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.


Be sure to call a quali- fied electrician or your landlord if blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers are a recur- ring problem. This means there is something wrong with your electrical system, and it needs to be inspected.


For more information on safety around electricity, visit SafeElectricity.org.


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