Release date: May 1, 1997
Release number: 97-114

Release Details

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF) are urging consumers to look for and correct electrical safety hazards in their homes this May as part of National Electrical Safety Month.

Every day a person dies in an electrical accident and every day families lose their homes to electrical fires. The tragedy for all victims of electrical accidents is that they are preventable, said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "If every household installed ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI s), deaths from electrocution in and around the home could be reduced by one-half. I urge consumers to look around their homes and correct electrical hazards. The simple act of removing electrical cords from under rugs could help prevent many house fires."

According to NESF Chairman Don Mader, most people take electricity for granted. "Electricity is a useful convenience that enhances our lives and homes. Too often, we tend to forget that electricity is a powerful energy source that must be treated with care and respect. National Electrical Safety Month is a good time to reacquaint ourselves with some basics, such as reading the use and care instructions and safety tips provided with electrical appliances, paying attention to all safety markings on electrical equipment, and checking every power cord to make sure it isn't damaged. These are simple things to do, but they are important for the safety of you and your family," said Mader.

Consumers can get plugged into electrical safety and help protect themselves from electrical accidents by taking a few minutes to check their homes for unsafe conditions.

-- Make sure cords are in good condition. A frayed or cracked cord could cause a shock or fire. Replace old and damaged extension cords with new ones having the certification label of an independent testing laboratory on the cord.

-- Check to see that extension cords are not overloaded, as indicated by the ratings labeled on the cord and the appliance. Overloaded extension cords could cause fires. Change the cord to a higher rated one or unplug some appliances, and remember that extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis and are not intended as permanent household wiring.

-- To reduce the risks of electric shock, make sure that GFCI protection is provided for outlets at kitchen counters, in bathrooms, and at outdoor receptacles. Test GFCIs monthly to make sure they are working properly.

-- Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures and lamps to make sure they are the correct wattage. Replace bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended to prevent overheating that could lead to a fire.

-- Check to see that fuses are the correct size for the circuit. Replacing a correct size fuse with a larger size fuse can present a serious fire hazard.

-- If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.

-- Check to see if outlets and switches are unusually warm or hot to the touch. If so, an unsafe wiring condition could exist. Do not use the outlet or switch and have a qualified electrician check the wiring as soon as possible.

These safety tips, along with many more, are published in the pamphlet entitled A Home Electrical Safety Check. To receive a free pamphlet, consumers should send a 55 cent stamped, self-addressed envelope to NESF, 1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1847, Rosslyn, Va. 22209. NESF is a non-profit organization, which was formed in 1994 with the belief that, through its efforts, electrical accidents could be prevented and lives saved.