Electrical Safety Is No Accident

Protect your home and family from fires and electrocution

Posted on May 20 2008 in Energy, Features

Hazards commonly found in older homes are increasingly causing fires and fatalities in the United States.

However, by taking a few simple steps and by incorporating newer technology, you can protect your home from many of these dangers. Each year the Electrical Safety Foundation International sponsors May as National Electrical Safety Month. For this year’s campaign, the foundation is helping consumers to take an active role in identifying older home hazards and in safeguarding their families from the dangers these hazards pose.safetyart-214x300

Home electrical problems account for nearly 55,000 home fires every year. These fires cause over 500 deaths, injure more than 1,400 people, and account for $1.4 billion in property damage. Older homes are at even greater risk to fire. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of the homes in the United States were built before 1973.

These homes and electrical systems were built before many of the appliances and electronics that we commonly use today were even around. To put this into perspective, a third of U.S. homes were built before hair dryers or electric can openers were invented! Half of the homes were built before the advent of the garage door opener or the home computer!

“As each year goes by, Americans are using more energy in their homes,” said Brett Brenner, president of ESFI. “Many homes and electrical systems in the U.S. are simply being overburdened leading to fires, deaths and injuries.”

For May 2008, ESFI is providing consumers with a checklist which will allow themselves to identify electrical dangers commonly found in each room of their homes. ESFI will also be educating owners of older homes on newer fire prevention technology such as Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs). These advanced electronic circuit breakers detect dangerous conditions in a home’s wiring and cut off power to the circuit before a fire develops.

Additionally, the foundation will be encouraging those living in older homes with children to install tamper resistant receptacles. These devices look like normal electrical outlets except they have built-in shutter systems that prevent children from inserting foreign objects into the slots. These outlets will prevent most of the 2,400 burns sustained by children each year from outlets.

More information and resources relating to National Electrical Safety Month 2008 can be found at www.electrical-safety.org.


Children’s safety at risk: Organizations want use of safety outlet expanded despite criticism

Childproofing your home just got a little easier for parents. The new National Electrical Code calls for tamper resistant receptacles to be installed in all newly-constructed homes which will help protect the seven children who need hospital treatment for burns from electrical outlets each day.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International, as part of its National Electrical Safety Month campaign in May, is highlighting tamper resistant receptacles and encouraging parents to adopt them into their homes whether new or old.

Most of the 2,400 injuries which occur each year are the result of small children placing ordinary household items such as keys, pins or paper clips into the outlets with disastrous consequences. A tamper resistant receptacle works like any other electrical outlet except it has a built-in shutter system that prevents children from sticking objects into the slots. The shutters do allow plugs to be inserted and removed as usual. These outlets are so effective at preventing injuries that for over two decades hospitals have been required to use them.

Unfortunately, some parents may not benefit from this added protection. As states begin to adopt the new Code into law, important safety provisions are coming under attack from unlikely opponents. Home builders and similar groups have criticized tamper resistant receptacles claiming that the additional cost will make new homes unaffordable. In actuality, the total increased cost for the average new home is less than $50. Most parents say it is a small price to pay for piece of mind.

“The focus of the debate should be on child safety. The great thing about tamper resistant receptacles is that they provide automatic and continuous protection for children,” said Brett Brenner, president of ESFI. “The new code requires them in all new homes, but owners of older homes can have them installed just as easily. For as little as $2 an outlet, an older home can be a much safer place for children.”

Safety products are intended to help reduce the possibility of accidental injury and make a home a safer environment. But, as manufacturers of safety devices point out — and what should be common sense to all parents: no safety product is a substitute for proper adult supervision at all times.