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Electrical and appliance safety

The Calgary Fire Department wants you to stay safe when using appliances and electricity both inside and outside your home.

General safety tips

Keep ladders at least 3 metres (9 feet) away from overhead power lines. Use wooden or fiberglass ladders outdoors.

Carry long equipment such as ladders horizontally.

If using an extension cord, make sure it is listed for the correct wattage being used and it is rated for indoor or outdoor use.

Have your home electrical system inspected by a qualified private inspector or in accordance with local requirements when buying, selling, or renovating a home.

Install tamper-resistant receptacles where needed. Tamper-resistant receptacles are required for new and replacement receptacles inside your home.

Inside the home

Appliance safety

Major appliances (refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, microwave ovens, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord with a major appliance—it can easily overheat and start a fire.

Small appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Unplug small appliances when not in use.

Window air conditioners should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Many manufacturers of room air conditioners prohibit the use of extension cords. If the manufacturer’s instructions allow extension cords, follow the instructions for the proper type.

Buy only appliances and other electronics that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.


Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, including furniture, bedding, curtains, clothing, and flammable or combustible gases and liquids.

Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.

Electric cords

Check electrical cords often. Replace cracked, damaged, and loose electrical or extension cords, including charging cords for portable electronic devices. Do not try to repair them.

Avoid putting cords under rugs and carpets, across doorways, or where they can be damaged or pinched by furniture.

Use only surge protectors or power strips that have internal overload protection. Use surge protectors or power strips that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Extension cords are for temporary use only. Have a qualified electrician determine if additional circuits or wall outlets are needed.

Wall outlets and switches

Replace wall outlets if plugs do not fit snugly or the wall outlet does not accept plugs with one blade larger than the other.

All wall outlets and switches should be covered with wall plates to prevent shock.

Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) protect against electrical fires and malfunctions by shutting off electricity. Have a qualified electrician install AFCIs in your home.

Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) reduce the risk of shock. GFCIs shut off electricity when it becomes a shock hazard. Make sure GFCIs are installed in bathrooms, basements, garages, outdoors, at kitchen counters and in other locations in the home where electricity is near water.

Test AFCIs and GFCIs once a month according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Outside the home

Power line safety

Never touch a power line or anything in contact with one. You could be injured or electrocuted. Assume that all power lines are live. Stay at a safe distance.

Never touch anyone or anything in contact with a downed wire. You could be injured or electrocuted.

Report downed power lines to authorities. Stay at least 10 metres (32 feet) away from downed power lines, even in wet conditions.

Some power lines are underground. Call your local authority to have lines identified and marked before digging.

When to call an electrician

  • recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • a tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
  • discolored or warm wall outlets or switches
  • a burning smell or rubbery odour coming from an appliance
  • if a fuse blows or a circuit breaker trips often, find out why and get the problem corrected before turning the breaker back on or replacing the fuse.

A qualified electrician should periodically inspect and, where necessary, replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool, spa, or hot tub electrically safe.

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