Stay Safe All Year Long

When a light goes out, it’s hard not to notice that the bulb needs to be replaced. But how can you tell if your power outlets are working properly? You don’t want an electrical fire to serve as your wake-up call that something is amiss.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets and combination-type arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) circuit breakers are just some of the many safety features in your home that need regular attention. It’s possible that an outlet or circuit may work, but the protection isn’t there. The only way to know is to push the "test" button.

Electrical Safety Foundation International provides a Home Safety Calendar (shown here) to help you remember when to perform routine maintenance and safety checks around the house. Some things, like vacuuming coils and changing furnace or air conditioning filters, should be done every three months. Other items, like the following, need to happen monthly.

  • Inspect all electrical and appliance cords for damage.
  • Test GFCIs and AFCIs. On GFCIs, pushing the "test" button should turn off power to the circuit. To restore power, press the "reset" button. To test AFCIs, push the "test" button. The breaker handle should go to the middle or off position. To reset, move the breaker handle to the "off" position and then to the "on" position.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Push the "test" button or use other procedures recommended by the manufacturer. Smoke alarm batteries should be changed at least once a year. If an alarm chirps or beeps to indicate low batteries, change them right away. Replace all smoke alarms at least every 10 years.

Click here to download a printable version of the calendar. Then put it on your refrigerator or another prominent place as a reminder of simple steps to take every month to keep your family safe.

Learn more about home electrical safety by visiting ESFI’s Virtual Home.