Your electrical panel (or fuse box) controls the flow of electricity to your entire home. It’s important to know where your main panel is located and be familiar with its functions in case of an emergency or a malfunctioning outlet. That way, the next time your power goes out while you’re vacuuming and using the blender simultaneously, you’ll know right where to go.
Always use caution. If you’ve never been taught how to turn power to an electrical panel on/off, or never reset a circuit breaker or fuse, it’s a good idea to call a professional or an experienced friend to help you the first time. Electricity can be deadly. This is not a safe task to teach children! If your basement is flooding and you've lost power, do not approach your panel! That is a dangerous situation, and you should contact a professional to assist you.
Locate your electrical panel. You will usually find the main panel in the basement or a utility room. If you have children, make sure they know to stay away from this area.
Learn your circuits. It’s a good idea to figure out which outlet each circuit connects with. Usually, it’s possible to get a map of the panel from the previous owner or original builder. If no map is available, you can create your own by systematically turning off one breaker or fuse at a time and checking which outlets lose power. This can be tedious, but this information is useful when dealing with blown fuses or breakers that need to be reset.
Locate the main disconnect. This breaker or fuse is usually marked “main” and located near the top of the box. Turning it off shuts off all power to the house. It’s important to know how to do this in case of an emergency such as a flood.
Learn how to reset your breakers or fuses. It’s useful to learn how to reset a breaker or replace a fuse (fuses are found on older panels) so you can restore electricity to an outlet that has lost power. For more details, read: Fix a Blown Fuse or Reset a Circuit Breaker.