According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission (CPSC), over 140,000 electrical-related fires accounted for an annual average of 500 deaths, nearly 5,000 injuries, and nearly $1.6 billion in property damage. Each year, there are an estimated 150 accidental electrocutions related to consumer products.
The electrical hazard is prevalent on the job as well. Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that nearly 300 people are electrocuted on the job annually. Electrical hazards carry a tremendous price tag in terms of corporate and personal productivity, medical and insurance expenses, and litigation. To help prevent more electrical-related deaths, injuries and property damage, ESFI sponsors and promotes May as a National Electrical Safety Month.
"The key to preventing potentially fatal, destructive and traumatic electrical fires, shock injuries and electrocution is awareness," says ESFI President Brett Brenner. "Awareness is the first step in a good electrical safety program, both at home and at work." Following are just some of the safety tips offered by the foundation:
? Electrical systems installed during the 1970s and earlier were not designed to handle the demand that we place on them today. To ensure the electrical safety of you home, have an electrical safety inspection performed by a licensed electrician.
? Use ESF's Indoor Electrical Safety Check brochure to make sure you're following the tips for the safe use of electricity.
?�Make sure electrical products you use, including extension cords, are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories (ULI), CSA Group, ETL, and MET Labs.
? Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the appliance or tool being used.
? Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Do not place power cords or extension cords in high traffic areas or under carpets or furniture, and never nail or staple them to the wall or baseboard.
GFCIs and AFCIs
? Make sure your home includes ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which can prevent electrocution by shutting off the circuit if they sense a "leak" of current. Install arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), to prevent fire caused by arcing, where electricity has to jump a gap.
? Test your GFCIs monthly and after every major electrical storm.
These and other electrical safety tips are available at ESFI's Web site at www.electrical-safety.org or by phone at 703-841-3229.