Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power wants you to think safety when using power tools. Whether you are a professional contractor, career construction worker, or DIYer working on a home improvement project, power tools are an essential part of the modern tool kit. The Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity program offers tips to help you stay safe while using power tools from a project’s start to its finish.
- Always read and understand the operator’s manual or instructions for a power tool before starting any work. Keep general safety best practices in mind while working with power tools, such as working in well-lit and uncluttered areas, wearing adequate eye protection and appropriate clothing, and keeping bystanders and children away from work areas.
- When water and electricity mix, the result can be deadly. Never use power tools outdoors if it is raining or the ground is wet. Dry your hands before touching electrical equipment, cords, or circuit breakers. Keep all power tools and extension cords at least 10 feet away from wet areas, and store all electrical equipment in a dry location.
- Whether you plan on working on a project indoors or outdoors, it is important that your equipment be plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs monitor the flow of electricity in a circuit for irregularities.
- Extension cords are often a necessity for many projects. There are many options when it comes to buying extension cords, but choosing the right one for your power tool is an important part of keeping yourself safe. Always check to make sure that an extension cord is properly rated for the device(s) you plan to plug into it. If a power tool draws more current than an extension cord can handle, it could cause the cord to overheat and create a fire. Compare the rating on a cord’s tag or packaging to the power requirements of your power tool, which can be found in the owner’s manual. Use heavy-duty, three-prong extension cords for tools with three-prong plugs. The third prong is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of shock or electrocution. Never remove or tamper with the third prong to make it fit in a two-prong outlet.
- Make sure that the power tools and extension cords you are using have been certified by a recognized safety laboratory like UL, ETL, or CSA. This certification guarantees that you are using the safest and most reliable equipment. Also, remember to check for damage, like cracking or fraying, to cords on your equipment as well as the plug or sockets, and replace as needed. Exposed wiring can create a shock and fire hazard, especially if the damaged cord is near flammable materials.
- If you are using a tool that is powered by a battery, store battery packs in a dry location. Store packs away from metal objects like coins, nails, or screws. These conductive objects have the potential to connect battery terminals together; causing a short circuit that can start a fire or damage the battery.