Florida Municipal Electric Association Provides Important Safety Precautions for Floridians
Each year, electrical failures are the cause of 43,900 home fires in the United States, resulting in 438 deaths, 1,430 injuries and $1.47 billion in property damage. And fire is not the only concern. Every year nearly 400 people are electrocuted, while thousands more experience nonfatal electrical shock and burn injuries. May is National Electrical Safety Month and the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) urges you to review safety measures and encourages safe electrical practices.
Number one on the list is to install new technologies such as AFCIs, GFCIs and TRRs. These are three types of electrical outlets that are responsible for the majority of accidents, and explained below.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are a new type of circuit breaker which recognizes fire hazards and immediately shuts off the power. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Healthy Homes report lists the lack of AFCIs among the primary residential hazards associated with burns and fire-related injuries.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are special outlets that shut off electric circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current could be severely shocked or electrocuted. A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electric products. GFCIs must be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors.
Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs) look just like ordinary outlets, but are designed with spring-loaded receptacle cover plates that close off the receptacle openings, or slots. Each year, thousands of children suffer severe shock and burns when the stick items into the slots of electric receptacles. Installing TRRs can help prevent these kinds of injuries.
In addition to installing these latest technological advancements in electrical safety, FMEA recommends the following tips to help ensure your safety:
- Check all light switches and outlets. If any are warm, discolored or make unusual noises, stop using them and have them checked out by a licensed electrician.
- Replace any cracked, frayed or damaged electrical cords.
- Never run an electrical cord under carpets. This can cause the cord to overheat, creating a fire hazard.
- Make sure electrical cords are not pinched by furniture, door or windows and are not attached to anything with nails or staples.
- Test smoke alarms once a month by pressing the TEST button. Replace batteries at least once a year or sooner if they begin to “chirp” or “beep.”
- Make sure all combustible material, such as curtains, bedding, and newspapers, are at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as space heaters and fireplaces.