Eliminate Top Safety Threats to Prevent Electrical Injuries

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) wants to remind consumers that taking steps to eliminate the top electrical safety threats in and around the home may prevent numerous injuries and deaths that needlessly occur each year.

According to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), top electrical safety hazards include: electrical fires caused by aging wiring and misuse of surge suppressors, and electrocutions from wiring systems and large appliances.

CPSC research indicates that each year we can expect more than 40,000 electrical fires, which result in hundreds of injuries and deaths. In addition, electrocutions associated with wiring and consumer products cost hundreds of lives annually.

“Despite the fact that many of these electrical hazards can be eliminated, we often fail to take steps necessary to protect ourselves from harm,” Michael G. Clendenin, executive director of ESFI noted. The following electrical safety tips may help avoid tragic and costly injuries:

  • Make certain that all appliances and equipment are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).
  • Use appliances and equipment according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Replace damaged electrical equipment or have it repaired at an authorized repair center. Replace frayed cords, broken plugs or cracks that could cause hazards; cut and throw out damaged cords.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection when working where water is near electricity, in areas such your kitchen, laundry room, bathroom or outdoors, to protect against electric shock.
  • When using a generator, plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord that is free of cuts and tears and has a 3-prong plug. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a dangerous practice known as backfeeding. If you must connect the generator to the house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install a power transfer switch in accordance with local electrical codes.
  • Be alert for hazards of old wiring. Flickering or dimming lights can be signs of electrical wiring problems. Have wiring in homes 40 years old or more, or those over 10 years old that have had major renovations, inspected by a licensed electrical inspector.
  • 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.
  • Make sure power strips 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.


Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International