Wire Installation Safety Tips

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What should I pay attention to when installing coaxial cable?

Installing Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cable is used for home TVs and hi-fi systems, for antenna installations for radio systems and to distribute data over networks for computers.

Here are the steps you should follow when you want to install coaxial cable, courtesy of radio-electronics.com:

  1. Choose the right cable: there are many coaxial cables on the market and the type you buy can depend on whether you are using it for commercial or domestic purposes
  2. Weatherproof: very important because moisture can damage the cable. Seal the end of the cable and make sure the cable's outer sheath is not damaged during installation. Loop the cable up and down to help prevent water from entering.
  3. General installation rule of thumb: make sure your cables are not bent or crushed. If coax is bent beyond its limit, then internal damage will occur.
  4. Connections: the connections to the connectors must be made correctly and the right quality connectors should be used. Some cheap versions of connectors can take away from the coaxial cable's performance.

What are some cable installation safety tips?

Cable Installation Safety

Whether you are installing cables in your home or at work, there are certain precautions you should take. Here are some cable installation safety tips, courtesy of NetDay, a national education technology non-profit organization.

  • Wear safety glasses: if you're working in a crawl space or above a dropped ceiling, you never know what might fall from above or what you might lean into.
  • Use common sense with ladders: don't stand on the top two steps and don't overreach. Move the ladder as you work.
  • Wear protective clothing: wearing long shirts and pants will protect you from minor cuts and keep materials from rubbing against your skin.
  • Don't be careless when lifting: bend your knees and keep your back straight and don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • Don't use power tools unless you know how to use them: if you use a saw or drill, work from a stable position. To avoid making dust fly when you drill, place a damp sponge over the surface to be drilled and then drill through the sponge. Don't trip over lengthy extension cords. Don't leave tools lying around.
  • Be wary of electrical cable: especially cables in ceilings and walls because you never know when they might be live. Know where the nearest fire extinguisher is.
  • Know local code: building code may prohibit drilling holes in fire walls or ceilings. Some buildings may contain asbestos or another material that must be handled by trained technicians. If you find damaged insulation, don't run cable in that area. If your plan includes routing cable through spaces where air is circulated, you may need to use fire-rated (also called plenum-rated) cable.

How can I use extension cords safely?

Extension Cord Safety

When installing new technology, you will undoubtedly be dealing with extension cords to help plug your many electronics in. Here are some electrical cord safety tips when dealing with extension cords, courtesy of the National Electrical Safety Foundation and also the Office of Engineering Safety in Texas, which develops safety policies and procedures for electronics.

  • They should not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring
  • They should not be used on equipment drawing more than 15 amps, such as refrigerators
  • They should not run through, behind or in walls, ceilings or floors or other concealed space
  • They should not be run through ventilation ducts
  • Do not place them under carpets, under doors or other locations that will subject them to abrasion or damage
  • Do not place across walkways or doorways because they will become a tripping hazard
  • Do not splice or tape broken cords or cords with damaged insulation -- throw them out
  • Do not use them near flammable gases or vapors or explosive dusts
  • Do not overload them
  • Use them on a temporary basis. They are not meant for permanent household wiring
  • Make sure they have safety enclosures to prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries

What should I avoid when installing speaker wire?

Do's and Don'ts of Installing Speaker Wire

You can't wait to set up your new speakers in your home theater and dream about the high quality of sound you and guests will enjoy while watching movies and listening to music. However, rush the job and your dream could become a nightmare.

When dealing with speaker wire installation, here are some do's and don'ts you should be aware of, courtesy of hometheatermag.com:

  • Do overestimate the amount of wire you'll need if you pre-cut the wire. This is because when running wire along rooms and through walls, the bends and turns the wire takes will demand more wire.
  • Don't run speaker wire near any other type of electrical lines. And if you must, keep your speaker wire at least 16 inches away from them and don't run them parallel to each other. Instead cross them at a 90-degree angle. Otherwise the speaker wire will pick up unwanted noise.
  • Don't tack speaker wire down with little staples or you risk shorting out the electronics. Instead, use plastic wire ties.
  • Don't use just any speaker wire for in-wall use. The National Electric Code and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specify code levels for speaker wire (CL stands for code level). Cable with the highest rating of CL3 is considered the safest. It's also fire retardant.
  • Do use PVC conduit, especially if you are running your wires under a foundation or through a garden for outdoor speakers. Remember that rodents chew cables. Also, conduit is smart because you can easily add extra lengths later.
  • Do realize that wall-mounted speakers can make other items on your wall rattle. So before you start measuring and drilling, take stock of framed artwork and other items on the wall. Have a friend hold up your speaker on the wall so you can listen. Test it by playing music with a consistent beat and by playing movie scores at different volumes. Move your speaker around the wall to make sure the spot where you want to mount it is indeed the spot where it will sound best.
  • Do punch as clean a hole as possible behind the area on the wall where your speaker will go. This will help hide the cable.

What electrical safety policies should be implemented at the workplace?

Electrical Safety in the Workplace

When establishing electrical safety policy in the workplace, here are some points to consider, courtesy of the National Electrical Safety Foundation:

  • Have a good idea of what could go wrong
  • Use the right tools for the job
  • Use procedures, drawings and other documents
  • Isolate equipment from energy sources
  • Identify hazards that may be present
  • Establish approach limitations to minimize hazards
  • Test every circuit and every conductor every time before you touch them
  • Be sure you are properly trained for the job
  • Work on electrical equipment and conductors only when deenergized, unless you are sure there is no chance of danger to yourself and other workers
  • Check and double check safety regulations
  • Treat deenergized equipment as energized until performing a lockout/tagout test (a test used to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of potentially hazardous energy while the machine is being serviced)

Why are there so many electrical safety requirements?

Why So Many Electrical Safety Requirements

Organizations, such as the Standard for Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces, outlines the steps companies must take to be in federal compliance with safety. They include:

  • A safety program with defined responsibilities
  • Calculations for the degree of an arc flash hazard
  • Electrical safety equipment for workers
  • Training for workers
  • Electrical safety tools
  • Electrical safety labels on equipment
Why such an emphasis on safety? A big part of it is the fear of what an arc flash can do. An arc flash is a short circuit through the air that can happen when conductors can't support the voltage. An arc flash can be as hot as 5,000 F and creates a brilliant flash of light and loud noise. As radiant energy explodes out of the electrical equipment, hot gases and melted metal can endanger human life. This is why there are four separate industry standards or electrical safety requirements in place to protect workers against arc flashes and electrical safety equipment on the market in the form of boots, suits, gloves and more.

How can I make sure my electrical outlets are safe?

Electrical Outlet Safety

No matter what type of dwelling we live in, we all have electrical outlets and plug our technology into them. It's something we may not think much about. But there are steps we should be taking to keep ourselves and our technology safe when it comes to electrical outlets.

Here are some electrical outlet safety tips:

  • Check for loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire
  • Replace broken or missing wall plates
  • Ensure safety covers are on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.

What should I pay attention to when it comes to electrical safety?

Electrical Safety Checklist

When it comes to electronics in your home, you want to make sure both your home and the people in it are safe. Here is an electrical safety checklist to refer to, courtesy of the National Electric Safety Foundation:

  • Cords: make sure cords are in good conditions, which means they are not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboard or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
  • Plugs: make sure your plugs fit your outlets. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong fit a two-conductor outlet because it could lead to an electrical shock. And never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit. Avoid overloading outlets with too many electronics
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): these can help prevent electrocution and are used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. When a CFCI senses leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Test GFCIs regularly, according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they are working properly.
  • Light bulbs: check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended. If you don't know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely because loose bulbs can overheat.
  • Circuit breakers/fuses: should be the correct size current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same size fuse.
  • Water and electricity don't mix: don't leave plugged-in electronics where they might come into contact with water. If they do fall in water, never reach in and pull them out, even if they are turned off. First, turn off the power source at the panel board and then unplug the appliance or electronic. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, don't use it until it has been checked by a qualified repair person.
  • Appliances: if an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced
  • Entertainment computer equipment: check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly. Look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
  • Lightening: during an electrical storm, make sure you use surge protectors on electronic devices.

How do I know if a wire is live or not?

Avoid Working With Live Wires

A “live” wire is one that has electricity running through it. If you are installing or repairing anything electrical, always isolate the equipment from the power source. In addition to turning any circuit breakers off, it is always good to test any circuit or conductor before you touch it. This can be done very simply with a hand-held voltage tester. Use this multi-meter every time you must handle something that is potentially live.

Can I install my house's electrical wiring myself?

Qualified Professionals Only

Electrical wiring is complicated and potentially life-threatening if installed incorrectly. Don't attempt any installation of electrical equipment yourself unless you are sure you have received the proper training and education for it. This is one area of household or office management you can't afford to be frugal about. If you aren't sure how to do it, always hire a qualified electrician who is. If you want to save money by taking on DIY projects, stick to wallpapering.

Am I at risk of electrical shock when I am on a wooden ladder?

Ladders And Power Lines

When using a ladder on a house, tree or any other structure near a power line, use extreme caution. Even wooden ladders can conduct electricity after coming into contact with a live wire. When suffering an electric shock on a ladder, the victim often falls off of the ladder. Providing the shock hasn't severely injured or killed the victim, a high fall certainly can. This is why the pruning of trees or installation of satellite dishes near power lines is often best left to paid professionals.

How can I protect myself when using dangerous power tools?

Power Tool Safety

Injury or death can occur when power tools are used improperly. Power tools should never be handled by any part other than the insulated grip. Also, safety gear should be worn as specified by the tool's instructions. This may include goggles, leather gloves, facemask, hardhat and leather work boots. A power tool should always be plugged into an outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter if the tool doesn't have one built into it. Also, the tool should never be used around water, dust, or flammable materials. Adherence to proper safety guidelines can save lives and valuable property by preventing electric shock and fires.

Should I have an electrician inspect a home before I purchase it?

Potential Homeowners Beware

Before the purchase of an older home, it is a good idea to have an electrician inspect the wiring in the home. Some problems may be so severe, you may want to negotiate the price of the home or not purchase it at all if problems are extensive. In the 1960's and 1970's, it wasn't uncommon for houses to be wired with aluminum instead of a more dependable copper wire system. Aluminum wiring can easily loosen and malfunction, causing fires to erupt. The installation of copper wire may be worth it to you, the potential buyer. However, it will not be an easy DIY project, rather an extensive and dangerous one for a licensed professional.

How can I protect my wires and cables from extreme heat?

High Temperature Braided Sleeving

The lives of cables, wires and hoses can be greatly extended with high temperature braided sleeving. Braided sleeving is a protective cover for the vulnerable material on common wires. High temperatures can cause cracks, frays or fires without braided sleeving, especially in wires and cables that are used in industrial settings or exposed to outdoor elements. In addition to protecting the wires from high temperatures, braided sleeving can shield wires and cables from abrasions, chemicals, dirt, and even freezing temperatures.

What should I know about the installation of power generators?

Installation Of Power Generators

The installation of a power generator should be done by a licensed professional and handled with extreme caution. The improper installation of a generator can result in injuries by fire or electric shock, particularly for local line workers. Before purchasing a generator for the home or office, make sure it is the proper size to fit your needs. Also, make sure it is connected to a special transfer switch so the current won't feed back into the main line. Never run a generator indoors, as it produces noxious fumes and can result in death.

How will I know if I am digging near underground wiring or utilities?

Check Before You Dig

When digging in the yard or on a construction site, one of the most deadly potential hazards is accidental contact with underground wiring or utilities. Whether you are using a shovel or some sort of mechanical digging tool, contact with a live wire can seriously injure or kill anyone touching the tool. Another hazard involves the rupturing of a gas line, which could cause a large explosion. State and federal guidelines must be adhered to during an excavation and you should always contact the appropriate officials before you begin the project. By preparing ahead with local government, you can ensure that you are not digging into an underground utility or wire.

What kind of personal safety equipment should I wear during an electrical installation?

Your Last Defense

When performing any kind of installation that involves electricity, the biggest hazard is always electric shock. Although separating the equipment from any power sources and using non-conductive tools is important, there is still one last defense against shock: protective clothing. Also known as personal protective equipment (PPE), protective clothing includes the following:

*Long sleeve, flame-resistant shirt (synthetic materials can be flammable or melt into skin)
*Long, flame-resistant pants
*Safety goggles with side shields
*Leather gloves
*Hardhat with flame-resistant liner
*Hair fasteners (only applicable if you have long hair, as it may catch fire)
*Leather work boots

How should I respond to an electric shock victim?

First Aid For Electric Shock

The first action to take with someone who has suffered an electric shock is to separate that person from any currents that may still be going through their body. This must be done quickly and carefully. Turn off any power at its source or unplug the object that caused the shock. If the power sources cannot be located quickly or safely by you, then you must free the person from the object by using a non-conductive item. Common objects for this task include a belt, towel or dry wood.

When someone suffers from electric shock and doesn't appear to be breathing, this is not an indication that they are dead. However, it does mean that they have only a few precious minutes to start breathing again. If this person isn't breathing but their heart is beating, they should be given artificial respiration. Never administer artificial respiration on someone who is breathing naturally. However, CPR should be administered if the heart has stopped in addition to the breathing.

How will I know what steps to follow during an electrical installation?

Plan Ahead

Before attempting any electrical installations, gather any drawings, instructions or procedural documents you have on the subject. Reading and studying documents before starting the project will alert you to any special situations, such as the need for specific tools. Also, you will know where to begin and where to go from there. Always keep the documents with you while completing the installation, as you should regularly refer to them. Even seasoned pros need guidance and advice while performing complicated electrical installations. This ensures the safest results for everyone.

What kind of tools should I use when dealing with electrical equipment?

Use the Proper Tools

When installing wires or dealing with any electrical equipment, it is important to use the proper tools. A non-conductive tool will have a rubber grip for you to hold it by. Never use a tool for electrical installation that is solid metal, even if you are wearing gloves and have the power source turned off. There is no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to electrical shock or burns.

What kind of risks are involved with wire installation?

Electrical Hazards

The following are the four main hazards involved with the installation of electrical equipment:

*Electric Shock- An electric shock or burn occurs when an electric current comes into contact with the skin and conducts through the body. If high-voltage electricity runs through the head or chest, death can occur instantly.
*Arc Flash Burn- An arc flash occurs when a conductive object gets too close to a high voltage, electrified object. This flash can cause intense heat in the surrounding air, possibly causing clothes to catch fire.
*Arc Blast Impact- When a metal object triggers an arc flash, a subsequent blast can cause hearing loss and concussion. Also, this blast can cause lacerations from flying metal pieces.
*Falling- Shocks and arc blasts can easily knock a worker off a high platform, such as a ladder or pole.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer