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We rely on electricity, but sometimes underestimate its capability of causing injury. Even household current (120 volts) can stop your heart. Everyone needs to be aware of the hazards electricity poses, such as shock, fire and explosion, and either eliminate or control those hazards.
Electricity has become such a necessary part of our lives that we tend to take it for granted, but using it safely is vitally important. Thousands of people in the United States are critically injured and electrocuted as a result of electrical fires and accidents in their own homes each year.
An average of 51,000 electrical home structure fires occur each year, claiming almost 500 lives, injuring more than 1,400 people, and causing more than $1.3 billion in property damage (National Fire Protection Association, 2003-2007). In addition, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 400 people are electrocuted in the U.S. each year.
Many electrocutions and home fires can be prevented simply by understanding basic electrical safety principles and adhering to safe practices. ESFI has developed a number of resources to help educate homeowners, consumers, older adults, and children.
Electrical Safety Basics
1. Don't work with exposed conductors carrying 50 volts or more.
2. Make sure electrical equipment is properly connected, grounded and in good working order.
3. Extension cords may not be used as permanent wiring and should be removed after temporary use for an activity or event.
4. Surge suppressors with built-in circuit breakers may be used long-term and are available with three, six and 15 foot-long cords.
5. High amperage equipment such as space heaters, portable air conditioners and other equipment must be plugged directly into permanent wall receptacles.
6. Do not access, use or alter any building’s electrical service, including circuit breaker panels, unless you are specifically qualified and authorized to do so.
- Wet environments can increase the risk of an electrical shock.