"Plug Into Electrical Safety"

CPSC and NESF Urge Consumers to "Plug Into Electrical Safety"
More Than 41,000 Electrical-Related House Fires, 350 Deaths Occur Each Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF) are urging consumers to look for and correct electrical safety hazards in their homes.

Each year, incidents involving electrical equipment, such as extension cords, outlets and light bulbs, result in more than 41,000 residential fires that claim about 350 lives and cause over 1,400 injuries. These fires also cause more than $620 million in property damage annually.

"Many of these electrical-related incidents are preventable," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "The simple act of removing electrical cords from under rugs could help prevent many house fires. If every household installed ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), deaths from electrocution in and around the home could be reduced by one-half. I urge consumers to look around their homes and correct electrical hazards."

Consumers can help protect themselves from electrical hazards by taking a few minutes to check their homes for unsafe conditions.

   Make sure cords are in good condition. A frayed or cracked cord could cause a shock or fire. Replace old and damaged extension cords with new ones having the certification label of an independent testing laboratory on the cord.

   Check to see that extension cords are not overloaded, as indicated by the ratings labeled on the cord and the appliance. Overloaded extension cords can cause fires. Change the cord to a higher rated one or unplug some appliances, and remember that extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis and are not intended as permanent household wiring.

   To reduce the risks of electric shock, make sure that GFCI protection is provided for outlets at kitchen counters, in bathrooms, and at outdoor receptacles. Test GFCIs monthly to make sure they are working properly.

   Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures and lamps to make sure they are the correct wattage. Replace bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended to prevent overheating that could lead to a fire.

   Check to see that fuses are the correct size for the circuit. Replacing a correct size fuse with a larger size fuse can present a serious fire hazard.

   If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.

   Check to see if outlets and switches are unusually warm or hot to the touch. If so, an unsafe wiring condition could exist. Do not use the outlet or switch and have a qualified electrician check the wiring as soon as possible.

These safety tips, along with many more, are published in the pamphlet entitled A Home Electrical Safety Check. To receive a free pamphlet, go to NESF's web site at www.nesf.org, or consumers can send a 55 cent stamped, self-addressed envelope to NESF, 1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1847, Rosslyn, Va. 22209. NESF is a non-profit organization, which was formed in 1994 with the belief that, through its efforts, electrical-related incidents can be prevented and lives saved.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, you can go to CPSC's forms page and use the first on-line form on that page. Or, you can call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or send the information to info@cpsc.gov. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information from CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov or by calling the hotline or sending your request to info@cpsc.gov. You can also subscribe to CPSC's email subscription list which normally sends all press releases the day they are issued.