Each year, over 400 electrocutions occur in U.S. homes and 180 of those cases are related to consumer products (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2017). In the workforce, the statistics are even higher. At least 300 people die from occupational electrocutions annually, and there are over 4,000 electrocution injuries.
How can you protect your family and prevent electrocution in your own home? It’s much easier than you think.
In 1961, University of California professor of electrical engineering Charles Dalziel invented the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). At first glance, it isn’t different from your existing outlets. The only time it takes action is when it senses a change in an electrical current’s frequency; when the difference between a device’s output and input exceeds 5 milliamps, the GFCI kicks in and immediately shuts off the flow.
Doing this prevents a ground fault electrocution, which occurs when electricity escapes wiring and heads for the ground. Electricity may travel through a human on its way to the surface, which can have deadly consequences.
They Prevent Shock
The most obvious benefit (and most important!) of GFCI outlets is that they prevent electrocution. The built-in sensor closely measures the inflow and outflow of electricity of any appliance that’s plugged into it, and if there’s any “loose” electricity, the power is shut off immediately, sometimes even as fast as one-quarter of a second.
They Prevent Fires
Electrical fires can travel fast as lightning and have deadly consequences. GFCI outlets decrease the likelihood of an electrical fire due to a ground fault, protecting your family and property.
They Help Preserve Your Appliances
Electricity can build up in appliances or electronics over time as their natural protection begins to wear down. Too much electricity can lead to hard drive failure and premature death of your appliances and beloved electronics. GFCI receptors give added protection and help you make the most of your most important investments.
Under the National Electric Code, all new homes are required to use GFCI outlets. Older homes, however, can upgrade easily for a low price. You can retrofit your current outlets for $10 a piece or install GFCI breaker switches starting at $108 for 50-amp models.
Portable GFCI adapters cost as little as $40; simply plug it into your regular outlet and use it to monitor and protect yourself and devices.
You Feel Safer
You can self-test your GFCI outlets and ensure they’re always working. You don’t have to live hoping that a power surge or ground fault doesn’t harm you or destroy your belongings. GFCI receptors should be tested every month but only need to be replaced every decade or so. This type of long-term investment can’t be understated, especially when it comes to you and your family’s safety.
Give Cathey Electric a call when you’re ready to upgrade your family’s outlets! Our friendly, experienced electricians are here to help you enjoy greater peace of mind.