Here’s How to Be Careful When Using a Multimeter

A multimeter is a great tool to have if you’re working with electrical equipment. This device lets you measure the current, voltage, and resistance in a connection. 

In this article, we lay out some key safety tips you should employ when using a multimeter. 

Get a Good Multimeter

The first step to be safe in any environment is to make sure that the equipment you’re using is of sound quality. If you’re on the lookout for a good multimeter, then this article has a great list of multimeters you can choose from. 

Inspect Your Gear, Instead of Assuming It Works

The most important safety tip in any situation, be it electrical or otherwise, is to never assume anything. Thinking that something will work the way it should is dangerous when you’re working with electricity. 

Always check your equipment before you start working. One key sign of a fault is a crack on the device’s surface or if you notice any leaking fluid. 

Before using the device on a live electrical wire, it’s best to see if it works on a weak source of electricity. Notice if it’s displaying a result, and also if it’s showing the accurate result. If either of these things aren’t working properly, then you might have a problem.

The probes of the device also need to be checked. Special care should be given to see that the rubber covering is not broken or chipped. If that’s the case then stop using the device immediately. This rubber covering is what separates you from electrocution. 

Remember that when you accidentally touch a live wire, your body becomes a part of that wire’s circuit, thus resulting in an electric shock. 

Wear the Right Equipment 

Ask anyone who works in an industrial area and you’ll see how important wearing a helmet is. It’s the same when dealing with electricity. If you’ll be exposed to electricity that’s 50V or higher, you’ll need protective gear. 

You should be wearing gloves that create a barrier between you and the wires. A helmet is also required as there might be some low hanging wires. You should be standing on an insulated mat to ensure that in a worst-case scenario earthing does not occur.

Like any other risky activity, you should never be alone when you’re doing electrical work. Always have a buddy nearby. In case of an accident, your friend will be able to rush you to hospital. 

Avoid Water at All Costs

It might seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often we get caught up in thinking we’ll be quick enough or clever enough to outsmart electricity. Even if the environment you’re in isn’t wet, and is rather damp or humid, it’s best not to work there. 

Don’t let the desire to finish things all at once, or the unwillingness to accept defeat, get to you. You’re dealing with something dangerous. 

If delaying the work means staying safe then, by all means, take an extra day.  

What Are CAT Ratings?

A CAT rating is the highest amount of energy that a multimeter can tolerate. CAT ratings are of different types, follow this guide to find out more about them. 

The User Manual Is Your Friend

If you’re unsure of something, chances are it’s in the user manual. This document provides a lot of crucial information about how to operate the device and how to troubleshoot your way out of dead ends. Sadly, it gets neglected most of the time. 

Don’t be one of those people, and refer to the document even if you don’t read it completely. Things such as how to set the range of the device are provided here. If you find that your device is displaying a value of one, then the reading is out of the range of the device and it should be tuned again.

Other things to watch out for include setting the device to AC when dealing with currents. You should also make sure that you insert the probes in the correct port. 

Be sure to turn the device to OFF after you’re done using it. If the device in question does not have an OFF setting then set it to the highest range. This will ensure the next user won’t damage the device or themselves. 

Some Extreme Scenarios

In the event of a lightning strike, a phenomenon called an electrical arc might be created. If the device is used with the wrong CAT rating, the device will break, and you’ll need a new one. 

This electrical arc can reach an unimaginable temperature of 5,000 degrees Celcius. The natural response of pulling the probes out of the ports will cause this arc to be pulled out as well. The best course of action is to let go of the probes and create a distance between it and yourself.

Parting Words

There is no such thing as safe levels when dealing with electricity. The danger is not associated with only high values of voltage. Even low values pose a risk. 

When buying any equipment, it’s best to ask around and look for the best value product. This does not mean the priciest or the cheapest product, rather the safest one.

Be sure to check the probes as well as the CAT rating of the device. Take time to see what components are used in the parts of the device you don’t see, because that’s where most of the value lies. 

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