Play Santa with holiday gifts that focus on safety

Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever

Instead of buying something at random just to have a gift for  friends and family members on  your Christmas list, consider purchasing an electrical safety product!  You can surprise them with a gift that says, “I care about you” all year-long! 

Some items that items that protect your home, family and other loved ones from electrical shock and fire include:

  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) – These devices should be professionally installed on outlets in wet areas of the home – kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and basement. GFCIs stop the flow of electricity instantly if there is a problem. When properly used, they save lives. It’s important to know how to test and re-set GFCIs.

GFCIs can be purchased from any store that offers electrical supplies, or from your neighborhood electrical professional.

  • Portable GFCI drop cord – GFCIs should also be used on outdoor outlets. If your outdoor outlets are not GFCI equipped, consider purchasing a portable GFCI – a must have for the do-it-yourself project person on your list.

    • Heavy duty extension cord – Often the tools or equipment necessary for larger projects are energized through extension cords that are inadequate for the heavier electrical load. Make sure the cord used is appropriately rated for the electrical load to which it will be connected.


    • Power strip with built-in circuit breaker – Designed for safety, the built-in circuit breaker prevents overloading of the power strip. This device often comes with the added feature of surge protection/surge prevention.


    • Smoke detector – Most homes could use more of these inexpensive safety devices. Since the primary job of a smoke detector is to awaken sleeping persons to warn them of fire danger, put a battery operated detector in each sleeping room and place additional detector(s) in the hallway or area by the bedrooms within five feet of the door to these rooms. In a house with bedrooms upstairs, one additional detector should be placed near the top of the stairs to the bedroom area. Batteries are also a good idea!


    • Circuit breaker fault detector – This small hand-held device safely detects faults in the circuit breaker panel and eliminates the guesswork of which one has tripped

    These are just a few of the gift possibilities aimed at improving electrical safety. A quick trip to the home improvement or hardware store can provide additional options. Keep in mind only electrical items that are accepted by independent testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL) are recommended.

    Be sure to read all manufacturer directions prior to installing or plugging in any electronic devices. Check and replace any electrical components that have worn, cracked or frayed cords and only use appliances in good condition.

    Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International

    Willie Wiredhand ©NRECA

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