Making the Most of National Electrical Safety Month
Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk
Electrical Wiring, Electrical Safety
rotecting your family, home and property is a full time job. Unfortunately, busy schedules often get in the way of making safety a top priority. Since May is National Electrical Safety Month, now is a good time to discuss electrical hazards and review effective safety practices.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), electrical malfunctions are a leading cause of residential building fires. In 2011, there were 26,800 residential building fires caused by electrical malfunctions that resulted in 280 deaths, 1,200 injuries and over a billion dollars in property loss. FEMA reports that residential building electrical fires cause more injuries, death and damage than all nonelectrical residential fires combined.
Steps can be taken to avoid becoming another tragic statistic. For example, since the average home in the United States was built in 1974, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) recommends installing updated home safety devices that are designed to meet today’s electrical demands. The following items, for example, can greatly increase electrical safety.
Tamper Resistant Receptacles
Curious kids and electrical receptacles (outlets) are a dangerous combination. Tampering with electrical receptacles causes an estimated 6 to12 child fatalities and 2,400 severe shocks and burns every year. Those relying on plastic outlet covers to protect their children should know that a Temple University study found that 100% of 2 to 4-year-old children were able to remove plastic outlet covers in less than ten seconds.
A Tamper Resistant Receptacle (TRR) has spring-loaded shutters that cover the contact openings, or slots, of the receptacles. These shutters only open when both springs are compressed at the same time. The shutters will not open when a child attempts to insert an object into only one contact opening, so there will be no contact with electricity. According to the ESFI, the cost of installing TRRs in new homes is about 50 cents more than installing traditional receptacles, and the cost of retrofitting existing homes can be done for about $2 per outlet.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
A ground-fault occurs when there is a break in the grounding path that may cause the electrical current to take an alternative path to the ground through a person, resulting in serious injuries or death. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power within as little as 1/40 of a second in the event of a ground-fault. It works by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors. If there is a measurable difference between the two, the GFCI interrupts the current.
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, Electrical Wiring