Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
May is Electrical Safety Month
Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
May 5, 2017 - With May as National Electrical Safety Month, LARA’s Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) is joining with the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to launch its annual effort to help reduce electrically related fatalities, injuries, and property loss. This year’s campaign theme is "Decoding the National Electrical Code® (NEC) to Prevent Shock and Electrocution.
“We are committed to educating the public about important electrical upgrades and information to help prevent electrically related injuries and fatalities,” said BCC Director Keith Lambert. “This year we’re focusing on common hazards including non-safeguarded electrical outlets, surge protection for home or office electronics, and lesser-known causes such as electric shock drowning.”
Each year, approximately 2,400 children across the country suffer severe shock and burns from sticking items into the slots of electrical receptacles. Additionally, an estimated annual average of 70 electrocution fatalities are associated with consumer products. Further, there are reported cases of electric shock drowning that occur in marinas and swimming pools each year.
A study by Temple University found that 100 percent of all 2-4 year olds observed were able to remove one type of plastic outlet cap within 10 seconds. Properly childproof your outlets by installing tamper resistant receptacles that offer a permanent solution to outlet covers. Built-in shutters prevent foreign objects from being inserted into the outlet. All 15A-20A, 125v and 50v outlets throughout your home must be tamper resistant: kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living room, hallways, family room, laundry area, bathrooms, garage, and outdoors.
Your best protection against electrocution is to make sure your home is properly protected against ground faults with the correct installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 50 percent of home electrocutions have been prevented by GFCIs. GFCI protection is required for kitchen countertops, bathrooms and laundry areas; garages; and outdoors on balconies, decks, and porch outlets and outlets within 6 ft. of a sink, bathtub or shower.
Surge protection will help keep your valuable electronics safe by protecting them from the surges that can damage or destroy them. A power surge is a sudden and unwanted increase in voltage that can damage, degrade, or destroy electronic equipment. Surges can occur when large appliances, such as air conditioners, turn on and off. Surges can also originate from electric utilities or lightning. No surge protection can handle a direct lightning strike. Disconnect sensitive electronics if a thunderstorm with expected lightning is on the way.
Power strips and surge protectors are not the same. Not all power strips offer surge protection. Consumers can opt for either point-of-use or whole home surge protection. Point-of-use surge protection is easy to use, it’s just plugged in so it only protects electronics plugged into the device. It also must be replaced over time or after a major surge event. You may want to consider whole home surge protection that protects your entire electrical system at home including large appliances, outlets, and light switches. This option protects against larger surges and provides longer lasting surge protection than point -of-use devices. A qualified electrician must install it.
With summertime fun around the water approaching, a reminder that water and electricity is a deadly combination. There is no visible warning to electrified water. Electric current in the water causes muscle paralysis which results in drowning. The 2017 National Electrical Code, which is currently being reviewed for adoption within the State of Michigan, requires marinas and boat docks to post electric shock warning signs where electricity is used near water. Marinas, boatyards and swimming pools are currently required to have ground-fault protection to help prevent water electrification. If you do see electric shock drowning taking place: 1) turn the power off; 2) throw a life ring: call 911; and NEVER enter the water – you could become a victim too.
The State of Michigan follows the National Electrical Code which has been adopted in all 50 states as the standard for safe electrical installation, inspection, and use to protect people and property from avoidable electrical hazards. The State of Michigan has adopted the National Electrical Code, a universal electrical safety standard allowing all new and renovated construction built to code to be safe from electrical hazards. LARA’s Bureau of Construction Codes along with county, city, village, and township enforcing agencies currently administers and enforces the 2014 National Electrical Code, together with Michigan Part 8 amendments and the 2015 Michigan Residential Code. The codes establish standards for the safe installation and maintenance of electrical wiring and equipment in commercial structures and one- and two-family dwellings in Michigan. The National Electrical Code is updated every three years to include the latest in proven safety technology.
Is your home up to code? Contact a qualified electrician to ensure your home is safe and up to code. When purchasing or using electrical products, look for the independent testing laboratory mark such as the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), to confirm compliance with industry safety requirements.
The Bureau of Construction Codes works to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public’s health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to increase public awareness of the electrical hazards around us at home, work, school, and play. ESFI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.esfi.org.