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Preventing Electric Shock

Preventing Electric Shock

rom time to time, we’ve all received an electric shock. Most of the time, it’s just a minor jolt. But sometimes it can be fatal.

Electrocution can occur with ordinary household voltages of 110V or less. But, any current over 10 milliamps (0.01 amp) can produce a painful to severe shock; currents between 100 mA and 200 mA (0.1 to 0.2 amp) can be lethal.

The best way to prevent electric shocks is by utilizing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These electric devices protect you by quickly shutting off the power when a fault is detected.

What locations need a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) installation?
Most local communities follow the National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements for home GFCI installations. These requirements generally call for GFCIs in bathrooms, garages, outdoors, unfinished basements, and laundry, utility and wet bar sinks where the receptacles are installed within six feet of the outside edge of the sink.

GFCIs should also be used whenever operating electrically powered garden equipment and electric tools. Additionally, GFCIs should be deployed near swimming pools, in pool houses, near hot tubs and whirlpools, and in greenhouses near water supplies. And for older or historic buildings, it is important to upgrade with GFCIs and to revise wiring, outlets and indoor and outdoor light fixtures for modern health and safety codes.

Testing GFCIs
All GFCIs should be tested after installation and once a month after that. To test the GFCI receptacle, first plug a light into the outlet. The light should be on, and then press the “TEST” button on the GFCI. The GFCIs “RESET” button should pop out, and the light should go out.

If the “RESET” button pops out but the light does not go out, the GFCI has been improperly wired. Contact a qualified electrician to correct the wiring errors. If the “RESET” button does not pop out, the GFCI is defective and should be replaced. If the GFCI is functioning properly, and the light goes out, press the “RESET” button to restore power to the outlet and the light should go back on.

Click here for more information on preventing electric shock and GFCIs.

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*Based on research conducted January - August 2016