Electrical Safety Awareness Month

February 2, 1984
Release Number: 84008

The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said today that 600 persons suffer electrocution in or around the home each year, and some 205,000 residential fires of electrical origin cause 1,100 deaths and an estimated 16,300 injuries annually. Property loss totals about $950 million from such fires.

Hair dryers falling into bath water account for an estimated 30 electrocution deaths annually...20 of them to children. The CPSC has, therefore, announced a month-long program to reduce electrical accidents in the home.

CPSC said that during Electrical Safety Awareness Month (February 1984), consumers will have an opportunity to conduct an electrical safety audit of their homes using a checklist developed by CPSC. Consumers can receive a copy of the audit checklist by writing: Electrical Safety Audit, Washington, D.C. 20207.

The Commission said that while Americans have become accustomed to the convenience of electric power and electrical appliances, most are unaware of the ways that shocks and burns can occur.

Besides urging consumers to conduct electrical safety audits of their home, the CPSC urges them to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) installed in their bathroom, garage and outside circuits.

These "Safety Breakers" are often seen in bathrooms as press-to- test buttons. CPSC said GFCI's could prevent many of the shock accidents because they cut off current to a circuit if electrical current begins to flow through the, body. They detect very small levels of leakage current and work so fast that serious injury can be avoided.

The Commission noted that over the life of the CPSC many safety improvements have been made in such products as electric blankets, hair dryers, extension cords and other appliances, in cooperation with industry. Several recalls negotiated with industry have involved electrical products.

A planning committee, representing some 30 private and governmental organizations, has developed the Electrical Safety Awareness Month activities and intends to continue the efforts annually. Co-chairmen of the Planning Committee are Jack Bono, President, Underwriters Laboratories, and Bernie Falk, President, National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Joining in the electrical safety awareness efforts will be the General Federation of Women Club members. The GFWC, with some 500,000 members nationwide, is the largest organization that will use the audit checklist to spot and eliminate electrical hazards and practices in their homes.