The month of May is National Electrical Safety Month. It serves as a foundation to educate people about the steps that can be taken to reduce the number of electrically-related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property loss. For our union, Electric Safety is paramount. According to OSHA, following proper lockout/tagout procedures prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational injury in the United States. Currently, fewer than 200 people die annually from household electrocutions. Nearly one-half of U.S. families never test their GFCIs.
The Electrical Safety Foundation reminds consumers that taking steps to eliminate electrical safety threats around the home and workplace can prevents thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year. Wiring hazards are both a major cause of electrocutions and home fires. The misuse of surge suppressors, power strips and extension cords is also a cause of electrocutions and fires.
Safety Tips to help avoid tragic and costly injuries:
- Make certain that all products and equipment are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).
- 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.
- 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.
For additional information about ESFI and National Electrical Safety Month, visit www.electrical-safety.org.