Electrons are whirling about us everywhere these days, and these sensitive little particles can easily cause mayhem when they are allowed to escape their circuits. Knowing a few basic rules for handling electrical devices and performing any work on or around them is essential for keeping both individuals and the equipment in working order.

1.      Check your gear.

Whether it’s your first time or your thousandth time working on electrical gear, everything comes down to your gear. The word of the day here is “insulation”. All of your tools should be checked to make sure all their resistant materials are free from cuts and tears that might expose the conductive metals usually hidden underneath. This is especially important for items you are more likely to use when dealing with more dangerous circuits, such as heavy rubber gloves, mats, and boots.

2.      Plan twice, act once.

A fair amount of electrical work needs to be done on live circuits. After all, you can’t measure how electricity is flowing through the circuit if there are no electrons running through it. This creates a potential for both personal harm and destruction of equipment if you short the circuit. Whenever you are taking measurements or working on a live electrical device, you should check your schematics, check the device, and repeat before performing any work. The same goes for any actions you take while working that do not directly relate to the circuit; one common mistake is resting a hand on the circuit while reaching for another tool or item and creating a short to ground through your body.

3.      Bring a friend.

Whether working on a small device or a high voltage beast, an extra pair of hands and eyes will come in handy. Most importantly, when working with dangerous voltages, it may be up to the support to shut off the power. They can also serve as “navigators” by looking over schematics and cutting down on the time it takes to perform the tasks without sacrificing safety. Also, be willing to perform the same service for any of your coworkers or friends, as the Golden Rule would have you do.

4.      Don’t forget about capacitors and oscillating circuits.

Capacitors and oscillating circuits can hold more than enough charge to cause damage, and not every capacitor is designed with paths through which they can bleed out their energy. Take the time to make sure that there are no capacitors hidden inside without a discharge path, and review the proper steps for dying out capacitors if there are some in the way.

 5.      Never lose respect for electricity.

After a while of working on electrical devices, it can be easy to experience a fading of concern towards the danger they represent. A small shock can be fatal under the right conditions, and it is always possible to destroy what you are trying to save by not taking proper electrical safety precautions. If it has been a while since you last read them or worked on an electrical device, review a more detailed list of these procedures to make sure they are at the forefront of your mind. 

Stay Safe!  Every detail matters where safety is concerned. Never disregard any safety tips out of hand, and make sure to read as much as you can to make sure you get to go back to your family at the end of the day. 

This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for She welcomes your comments at her email id: