Kitchen Safety Rules to Prevent Shocks

Electricity in the kitchen can be marvelously useful when kept contained and employed correctly.

Outlet Protection

Using this type of multi-outlet adapter in kitchens is asking for trouble.Using this type of multi-outlet adapter in kitchens is asking for trouble.
But electricity can quickly become dangerous or even deadly if basic electrical safety rules are not followed. It’s better to identify and correct potential electrical shock hazards in your kitchen before a family member or guest suffers injury.

Replace outdated kitchen electric outlets with modern outlets equipped with ground-fault circuit interruption, or GFCI. These outlets prevent lethal shocks by instantly cutting off the electricity if there’s a short circuit or other electrical fault in the electric appliance plugged into the outlet. These outlets have a test button that checks for correct function. Check your GFCI outlets monthly by pressing the “Test” button. If the button labeled “Reset” pops out, the outlet is OK. Press the "Reset" button to re-establish power.

Appliance Safety

Keep countertop electrical appliances away from the sink and unplug them when they are not being used. An appliance that’s plugged in can deliver a lethal shock if it falls into a water-filled sink. Don’t use an electrical appliance that has gotten wet. Water infiltration can damage motors, switches and create a shock hazard. Repair or replace any malfunctioning electrical appliance. Repair or replace a cracked or broken plug or a cord with frayed or cracked insulation. Avoid using extension cords to power countertop appliances. Arrange appliances so each can be plugged directly into a grounded outlet.

Proper Grounding

Don’t plug a three-pronged grounded appliance plug into an adapter to make it fit a two-prong outlet. Replace the two-prong outlet with a grounded three-prong GFCI outlet. Use of a two-prong adapter defeats the appliance’s internal grounding connections, which are meant to prevent dangerous shocks. Don’t overload electrical outlets; avoid running multiple high-amperage devices such as electric irons and toaster ovens from the same electric outlet.

Other Precautions

Don’t allow appliance cords to hang over the edge of counters or touch hot surfaces. Small children can grab a dangling cord and pull an appliance down on top of them. Hot surfaces can melt or burn the insulation off an electrical cord, leading to dangerous sparking. If you have small children, put child safety covers on all electrical outlets. Dry your hands thoroughly before touching wall switches or countertop appliance controls; wet hands can be an invitation to shock. Know where your circuit breaker panel or fuse box is located and how to disconnect power from there.

About the Author

Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.