With the holidays just around the corner, homes everywhere are adorned with decorations—most of which require power. Electricity, a utility that we all use daily, is also one of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s focus four hazards. Electrocution can occur when an electrical current as small as 10 milliamperes (mA) across a person’s chest causes an irregular heart rhythm.
Accessible, Quick-Response Safety Measure
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 50% of home electrocutions can be prevented using a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs operate similar to a circuit breaker, where the circuit opens when an unintentional electrical path is detected between the circuit and a grounded object. Available at most hardware stores, GFCIs are designed to protect users from electrocution by shutting down the power supply when ground faults are detected—it only takes 1/40th of a second for a GFCI to shut off electricity once tripped.
GFCI Guidelines Chronology
National Electric Code (NEC) GFCI requirements date back to the 1960’s, with new receptacle requirements evolving in different locations since then:
- 1973: outdoors
- 1975: bathrooms
- 1978: garages
- 1987: kitchens
- 1990: crawl spaces and unfinished basements
- 1993: wet bar sinks
- 2005: new laundry and utility sinks.
According to safeelectricity.org, anytime power is required in areas with high moisture content, GFCIs should be used to protect you, your tools, your equipment, or your holiday decorations! If the power source isn’t GFCI-protected, use a portable GFCI for added safety.