May Is National Electrical Safety Month
Increasing electrical safety awareness, following electrical safety guidelines, and using tools and technology designed to address electrical hazards are all components of a safety program.
What causes the top electrical hazards? Many are the result of the growing use of electrical power, combined with electrical systems that are over 20 years old. Wiring hazards are both a major cause of electrocutions and home fires, killing hundreds and injuring thousands each year. Misuse of surge suppressors, power strips and extension cords is also a cause of electrocutions and fires. Contact with power lines and major appliances contribute to hundreds of deaths annually, both at home and in the workplace. Eliminating these electrical hazards will help reduce deaths and injuries.
Eliminating electrical hazards begins with education and awareness. A focus on electrical safety, both at home and in the workplace, can prevent the hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and billions of dollars in economic losses that occur each year because of electrical hazards.
Use of tools and technology can also make our reliance on electrical power less hazardous. Investing in ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), circuit testers and where necessary, personal protective equipment (PPE), can significantly reduce risk.
Here are a few tips from ARROW ELECTRIC:
- Use appliances and equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Replace damaged electrical equipment or have it repaired at an authorized repair center.
- Make sure power strips, cords and surge suppressors are designed to handle the loads for their intended use. Avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet.
- Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection when working where water is near electricity to protect against electric shock.
- Add protection by installing a new electrical safety device—an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)—to detect and stop electrical arcs that can cause fires.
- Arcs are not detected by most breakers and fuses.
- Avoid contact with power lines by being aware of the location of power lines and keeping a distance of at least 10 feet between you and power lines to avoid arcs.
GFCIs: TOP SAFETY DEVICE
Installing a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in every home and workplace could prevent nearly 70 percent of the approximately 400 electrocutions that occur each year. GFCIs are especially useful for cord-connected appliances and equipment used outdoors or near water.
GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A GFCI can be an electrical receptacle, circuit breaker, or portable device. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted.
An Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) survey found that nearly one-half of U.S. families never test the GFCIs in their homes. More that 25 percent do not know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. Even among those who routinely tested their GFCIs, none said that they tested their units as recommended — at least once a month and after storms.
GFCIs are subject to wear and possible damage from power surges during an electrical storm. Industry studies suggest that as many as 10 percent of GFCIs in use may be damaged. ESFI recommends performing a simply monthly test to determine if GFCIs are functioning properly.
Among the estimated millions of GFCIs installed nationwide, many are the standard wall or receptacle- type GFCIs. To test your GFCIs, follow this simple procedure:
Push the “Reset” button of the GFCI receptacle to prepare the unit for testing.
Plug a light into the GFCI and turn it on. The light should now be ON.
Push the “Test” button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF
Push the “Reset” button again. The light should again turn ON.
The light should go out when the test button is pushed. If the light does not go out, then the GFCI is not working or has been installed incorrectly. If the “Reset” button pops out during the test but the light does not go out, the GFCI may have been improperly wired. In this case, the GFCI may have been damaged and does not offer shock protection. Contact a qualified electrician to check the GFCI and correct the problem.