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May Is Electrical Safety Month! Is youR home Over 50 Years Old?


Each year, thousands of people in the U.S. are critically injured and electrocuted as a result of electrical fires and accidents in their own homes. There are about 400 electrocu- tions in the U.S. each year, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. An estimated 43,900 home fires each year list electrical failure as a factor in the fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires result in 498 deaths, 1,620 injuries and $1.47 billion in damages.


HOME WIRING SYSTEMS About one-third of the homes in the U.S. are over 50 years old. Many older homes were built with electrical systems and components which are no longer safe and may be consid- ered as fire hazards. Some appliances use more electricity than the wires were rated to carry.


KNOB AND TUBE WIRING 1800s-1930s An open air system that used ceramic knobs to separate wires from combustible framing. Considered a fire hazard today.


ALUMINUM WIRING: 1960s-1970s As the price of copper soared in 1960s, an estimated 2 million homes were wired with aluminum. Many receptacles and switches made during this time were not intended for use with aluminum wire. Some of these connections could become loose and pose a potential fire hazard.


GROUNDED ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS 1940s THROUGH PRESENT


Electricity seeks to return to its source and complete a continuous circuit. A typical circuit in your home has two conductors: hot and neutral. Electricity travels from the ser- vice panel to home appliances through the hot conductor, and returns the current to the service panel through the neutral conductor.


A third or “grounding” wire is also con- nected to all outlets and metal boxes in your home. This critical safety feature is designed to greatly reduce your chance of shock or electrocution should a short circuit occur. Grounding wires are connected directly to the earth through a grounding rod.


TAMPER RESISTANT RECEPTACLES (TRR) Each year, approximately 2,400 children suf- fer severe shock and burns when they stick items into the slots of electrical receptacles. It is estimated that there are six to 12 child fatalities a year related to this. Tamper resistant receptacles feature an internal shutter mechanism which prevents children from sticking objects like hairpins, keys and paperclips into the receptacle. The spring loaded shutter system only opens when equal pressure is applied simultaneously to both shutters, such as when an electrical plug is inserted.


Should a short circuit occur, the electricity will find its way along the grounding wire to the earth.


Many Older Homes Don’t Have a Third “Grounding” Wire. If your homes wiring doesn’t have the proper grounding wire, your chance for receiving a serious shock is greater and you won’t be able to use some of the new safety equipment that is available today.


GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS(GFCI)


Since the 1970’s, GFCI’s have saved thou- sands of lives and have helped cut the number of home electrocutions in half. GFCI’s are electrical safety outlets that detect ground faults or electricity leaks. If a person gets shocked in the path of electricity, these outlets detect a difference in electricity flow- ing and quickly shut off power to the circuit. GFCI’s have to have the third or ground wire to work properly. A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products. GFCI’s are to be used in all kitchens, bath- rooms, garages and outdoor outlets.


ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS(AFCI) Introduced in 2013 to offer added protection from arc faults. Arc faults are a dangerous electrical problem caused by damaged, overheated electrical wiring or devices.AFCIs detect hazardous arcing conditions and shut down electricity before a fire can start.GFCI’s and AFCI’s should be tested once a month .


INSTALL SMOKE & CO2 DETECTORS They can save lives! LOOK FOR SIGNS OF ELECTRICAL PROB- LEMS Dim or flickering lights, unusual sizzling or buzzing sounds from switches or outlets. Circuit breakers that trip repeatedly.


AVOID OVERLOADING OUTLETS Use extension cords only temporarily, and never with space heaters or air conditioners.


CONTACT A LICENSED ELECTRICIAN If your home is old and you have wiring concerns, or if you are in doubt that your wir- ing is safe, call an electrician to inspect your home. Better Safe than Sorry.


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