Will A GFCI outlet save your life?

Did you know that a GFCI outlet can save your life?

Q: What happens when you mix electricity and water?
A: Nerve and tissue damage, burns, gangrene, and death.

Is it really that serious? Yes it is.

That is why the installation of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles is mandatory in homes today. In fact, did you know that before the installation of GFCIs were mandatory, nearly 800 people died annually from household electrocutions? Today, less than 200 people die annually from household electrocutions.

That raises a few questions then:

  • What is a GFCI outlet?
  • Why do I need them?
  • How do I know if I have them?
  • Where are they needed?
  • Why are people still getting electrocuted then?
  • How do I test them?
  • Who should I ask to install it for me?

What is a GFCI outlet?

Simply put, when there is an electrical current leakage the entire circuit is de-energized. In other words, if electricity goes through a person to find the ground, the GFCI outlet shuts off within 1/40th of a second!

It works by constantly testing how much current goes into a circuit versus how much returns home. Then, if that current varies as little as 5 milliamps, the GFCI will trip immediately.

Why do I need them?

GFCI outlets save lives. In fact, GFCI’s may protect you from lawsuits. If someone gets electrocuted at your home, then you can almost expect that they will sue you. Your liability insurance portion of your homeowner’s policy will protect you, but why put yourself and your visitors through this traumatic situation?

Remember, if a plugged-in hair dryer falls into a wet sink, your child avoids being electrocuted because a GFCI outlet would instantly trip and save their life. They also prevent burns and home fires.

Where are they needed?

The National Electrical Code, combined with local municipalities, normally require GFCI’s to be installed in:

  1. kitchens
  2. bathrooms
  3. unfinished basements
  4. garages
  5. outdoors
  6. your pool
  7. anywhere near a sink.

GFCI kitchen safety

Why are people still getting electrocuted then?

Here is the thing: older homes may not have these safety devices installed. Also…

  • Up to 25% of U.S. consumers don’t understand the purpose of their GFCI outlets
  • Over 25% of consumers don’t know that a GFCI outlet can help prevent electrocution
  • Nearly one-half of U.S. families never test their GFCI outlets

The sad result is that 200 people a year still get electrocuted in their homes.

How do I test them?

This is simpler than it sounds. Your GFCI outlet has two buttons:

  • Test
  • Reset

Here are the steps to testing your GFCI:

  • Step one: Plug a light or radio into the GFCI outlet and turn it on.
  • Step two: Confirm the light or radio is now on.
  • Step three: Press the TEST button.
  • Step 4: Confirm the light or radio turns off.
  • Step 5: Press the RESET button.
  • Step 6: The light and radio should go back on again.

Who should I ask to install a GFCI outlet?

Whenever you have someone work on your electrical system, be sure to only hire a local electrical contractor. Remember that if these are wired backwards, then you will not be protected.

If you have any questions about your homeowner’s policy or are interested in getting a discount for upgraded electrical wiring, please contact us today.

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Source: http://ccd.fnal.gov/fire/Electrial_Safety.pdf