ESFI: Home Electrocutions Cut in Half by GFCIs

As part its National Electrical Safety Month campaign, the Electrical Safety Foundation International is encouraging of owners of aging homes to see whether their homes are protected with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters and to safeguard their families by installing them if not. While the current National Electrical Code requires GFCIs to be installed in all newly constructed homes, ESFI says this life-saving technology has never been added to many older homes.

Found mostly in areas around the home where electrical products might come in contact with water such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors, a GFCI is a special type of outlet designed to trip before a deadly electrical shock can occur. GFCIs are credited for reducing residential electrocutions by more than 50 percent over the last two decades. However, homes built more than fifteen years ago are not likely to be protected by GFCIs.

"It is an issue that many people take for granted," said Brett Brenner, ESFI president. "If GFCIs were installed in every U.S. household, nearly 70 percent of the approximately 400 electrocutions that occurred last year could have been prevented."

According to ESFI, installation is only part of the issue. GFCIs are subject to wear and possible damage--as from a strong power surge during an electrical storm--and should be tested once a month and after electrical storms to make sure that they are offering shock protection. Testing is important because the outlet will still work like normal even though the GFCI is no longer functioning correctly.

ESFI is providing homeowners with simple and easy instructions on how they can test their GFCIs to see if they are working properly. These instructions and other resources relating to National Electrical Safety Month 2008, including a checklist which identifies other dangers commonly found in older homes, are available at www.electrical-safety.org.

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