3 Electrical Devices That Keep Your Home Safer

Posted June 3, 2014

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failures or malfunctions were a contributing factor in an estimated 46,500 U.S. home fires in 2010.  These fires caused 420 deaths, 1,520 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property damage. And yet fire is not the only danger. Thousands of children and adults are critically injured and electrocuted annually from electrical hazards in the home. Most of these electrical accidents are entirely preventable. By installing a few inexpensive electrical safety devices you can help protect your family from the danger of electrical shock and fires.

Tamper Resistant Receptacles

One of the most common causes of electrical shock in homes with young children is unprotected electrical outlets. While plastic covers can provide some measure of protection, kids quickly learn how easy they are to remove, or adults simply forget to put them back on after using the outlet. Fortunately, there are new outlet designs with built-in tamper protection that prevent an foreign objects other than electrical plugs from being inserted into the outlet.

GFCI Outlets

If you live in an older home without Ground Fault Interruption (GFI) outlets your family is at greater risk of electrocution. GFIs are designed to turn off in the event that an electrical appliance plugged in to an outlet comes into contact with water, such as a hairdryer falling into a sink of water. If you live in a newer home with GFCI outlets already installed, it's important to ensure the devices are operating correctly by using the test function built in to most GFCI outlets.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)

Arc fault circuit interrupters, or AFCIs, are devices that provide a higher level of protection by detecting hazardous arcing conditions and shutting down the electricity before a fire can start.  There are three main types of AFCIs. Branch/feeder AFCIs, the most common type of AFCIs, replace standard circuit breakers in your home's electrical service panel and provides arc-fault protection to the entire branch-circuit from the service panel to the outlets. Outlet AFCIs are receptacles that provide protection to power cords and things that are plugged into the receptacle. Combination AFCIs combine the features of branch/feeder and outlet AFCIs and detect arching faults in the complete circuit. AFCIs offer greater protection than traditional breakers because they are equipped with advanced internal electronics that detect arc fault hazards traditional breakers were not designed to recognize.

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