According to the
Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI), a non-profit organization entirely dedicated to promoting electrical
safety in our homes and workplaces, “there were 136 electrical fatalities
in 2017.” The ESFI continues, “There were 2,210 nonfatal electrical
injuries in 2017, an increase of 35% over 2016.”
Each year, Americans die because of electrical accidents – fatalities
directly caused by electric shock. While many of these deaths occur in
the workplace, some of them occur in our own homes. Many of the victims
of electric shock are children who were unsupervised, or who were being
supervised by parents who were not educated about electrical safety.
GFCIs Reduce Electrical Accident Deaths
There were only 136 fatalities from electric shock in 2017, but before
the use of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) became common and
widespread, the deaths from
electric shock were in the ballpark of 800 a year.
Nowadays, it’s hard to come across a home or business that isn’t
outfitted with GFCIs, especially in rooms with water, such as bathrooms
and kitchens. They’re also standard outdoors in places exposed to
the elements – rain, snow, and also sprinklers.
Since GFCIs were adopted by electricians and homebuilders, the annual fatality
rate from electric accidents has dropped from around 800 annual deaths
to 200 or less – this is amazing, but we still have work to do to
get those fatalities down closer to zero.
How GFCIs Work
How do GFCIs work? For starters, they’re a type of outlet but they
are unique because they are specifically designed to reduce the risk of
electric shock, especially in areas like bathrooms and kitchens that have water.
For example, if you’re in the bathroom and you plug in a
hairdryer in the GFCI outlet, it will monitor how much power is going into the hairdryer.
But if you accidentally drop the hairdryer into a tub or sink full of
water, the GFCI will detect the interruption in the current and it will
automatically cut the power going to the hairdryer – this could
save your life.
3 Signs of a Home Electrical Problem
How do you know if an outlet is a GFCI outlet? It’s easy. It will
have a yellow Test and red Reset button. It may also have an indicator
light that is built into the outlet.