In the early days of electrical wiring, electricians had to be extremely careful not to get electrocuted while installing lighting, switches, and outlets in homes. I learned through my research that they used several clever techniques to avoid getting zapped by live wires.

Wiring Homes Before Electricity Was Common

When electricity first became available in homes in the late 1800s and early 1900s, most houses did not originally have electrical wiring installed. Electricians had the hazardous job of retrofitting existing homes with electrical systems. This involved snaking wires through walls and ceilings without getting shocked.

At the time, there were no insulated wires, plastic switches, outlet covers, or safety devices like circuit breakers. Early electricians worked with bare copper wires and had to be very cautious when handling live wires. Any slip up could result in a nasty shock or even death by electrocution.

How They Avoided Contact with Live Wires

Electricians in the early 20th century used several techniques to avoid contacting live electrical wires as they wired up existing homes:

Installing the Electrical Panel Safely

One of the most hazardous tasks was installing the main electrical panel, known as the breaker box today. This involved working with the live main power lines from the street. Electricians used these precautions when putting in electrical panels:

Testing the Wiring Before Turning Power On

After installing new wiring throughout the home, electricians took precautions to test it before re-energizing the system:

Only after thoroughly testing the new wiring would they turn the main power back on. This meticulousness helped prevent any mishaps that could injure them or the homeowners.

Dodging the Dangers of Early Electrical Work

The brave electricians wiring homes in the early 20th century had to be extremely cautious and deliberate in their work. Without modern safety equipment and insulated wires, any small mistake could prove fatal. Their clever techniques, steady hands, and diligent testing processes allowed them to keep from getting zapped as they pioneered electrical work. I have deep respect for their risky efforts that helped bring electricity into homes.