Electrical contractors are joining together in an attempt to educate the public about ways to lower the number of deaths each year by electrocution.
Designated “Electrical Safety Month” by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), May provides a special opportunity to educate the public about the high number of children’s deaths by electrocution.

"Countless children die each year from accidents that could have been prevented,” John Masarick, IEC Codes and Safety Manager, said. “IEC encourages its contractors and member companies to distribute the safety kit sponsored by the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) to children everywhere.”

This kit which features Petey the Plug, Edison the Light Bulb, and Flip the Light Switch can be downloaded at: www.naed.org/images/safety.pdf, or by visiting the NAED website (www.naed.org). The kit contains several activity pages, ranging from word scrambles to coloring pages and can be duplicated for educational purposes.

Electrocution is the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States, according to the National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF). According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one person is electrocuted in the home every 24 hours. Electrocution, however, is not limited to children, as evidenced by OSHA statistics that demonstrate one person is electrocuted in the workplace every 36 hours.

“Adults should teach children simple rules about never sticking fingers or toys in electrical sockets and never playing video games in the bathtub,” Masarick said, all of which is taught in the Safety Kit that can be downloaded from the Web. Additionally, the kit instructs children to never carry toys by the cord and to never fly kites near power lines. “Everyone can benefit from reading about the causes of electrocution deaths. Some adults do not know how to test their ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).”

According to the NESF, a recent study showed that roughly 10% of GFCIs may be damaged due to common circumstances like power surges during electrical storms. Consumers are urged to test their GFCIs (the “TEST” and “RESET” buttons on outlets in bathrooms, kitchens and circuit panels) monthly and after every electrical storm.

The GFCI test involves simply plugging a nightlight into a GFCI outlet and turning it on. Press the “TEST” button. The light should go off. Press the “RESET” button, and the light should go back on. If the light does not go out when the “TEST” button is pressed, contact a qualified electrician to correct the problem. Electricians can be located using IEC’s “Find an Electrician” database at: http://www.ieci.org/default.asp?PID=5.

Ground faults occur when the electrical current in an appliance strays outside the path of where it would normally flow. If a person provides a path for the live current to the ground, he or she may be severely shocked or even electrocuted. When they work properly, GFCIs detect even minimal differences between electricity flowing out of and returning to the device, acting quickly to intercede and shut down the flow of electrical current through the circuit (and a person) thereby helping to prevent injury or death.