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Become a light-bulb expert: 'How many people does it take to change a light bulb?' The answer? Just one — you, with the right safety tips. Here are five things to remember the next time you perform the simple household chore.

1 Turn it off: It may seem like common sense, but how many times have you screwed in a light bulb only to realize you didn't turn off the light switch? This is called 'hot swapping,' when you remove or replace an electrical component with electricity still running to that component. It's as dangerous as it sounds, according to Home Depot's how-to website, proreferral.com. Instead, turn off the light and wait 10 minutes before you switch out the bulb.

2 Light grip for a light bulb: Many will unscrew a light bulb by squeezing around the bulb — similar to turning a doorknob. Instead, you should gently curl your fingers around the bulb until you have just enough pressure to grasp it without slipping. Avoid exposing your palm to the glass bulb. Even better? Put on a pair of protective gloves and guard yourself from broken glass or a hot bulb. The less direct contact you have with the bulb, the better.

3 Know your lamp: Before you screw in any old light bulb into your great grandmother's antique lamp, pay attention to the recommended maximum wattage and bulb shape. Failure to do so may lead to damaging the fitting or worse, creating a fire risk in your home. Also know if you lamp needs an indoor or an outdoor light bulb. Larger wattage bulbs are prone to cracking if splashed with rain while hot, according to lightbulbs-direct.com.


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4 Broken bulb: Sometimes, we have to change a light bulb because the old one is broken. First, put on those protective gloves. Second, make sure your power source is turned off — this is a really important step! Next, use a pair of needle nose pliers to grab the broken base and turn counter clockwise. Even better? Cut an uncooked potato in half and push the cut side of the potato into the broken base and turn the potato to safely loosen the base.

5 Proper disposal: Your work is almost finished, but now you have to get rid of the old light bulb. First, know what kind of bulb you have. Fluorescent bulbs contain traces of mercury, so you'll need to check your state's recycling rules. For regular incandescent bulbs, if your state won't recycle them, cover them with thick paper or put back in the original packaging so as to avoid shattered glass in your trash bin. Visit www.epa.gov for more information.