SCE&G Offers Safety Tips for National Electric Safety Month
Public Affairs

COLUMBIA, S.C. (May 13, 2008) – Electrical fires killed 17 people in South Carolina in 2006, making them the number one cause of fire related deaths according to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Nationwide, home electrical problems kill more than 500 people, injure roughly 1,400 and account for $1.4 billion in property damage. They also cause, on average, nearly 55,000 fires a year.

We’re sharing this information with you now because May is National Electric Safety Month, however, staying safe around electricity is important year-round. Here are some quick tips to keep you safe:

Check all electric outlets
  • Ensure ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are installed by a licensed electrician on all electric outlets that could come in contact with water, such as around the kitchen or bathroom sinks. GFCIs are plug receptacles designed to protect you from potentially fatal electrical shocks.
  • Test your GFCIs monthly and after every major electrical storm.
  • Check outlets to ensure they aren’t overloaded. An outlet that makes popping noises, is hot to the touch or has sparks coming out of it should be checked by a certified electrician.
  • Look into adding tamper-resistant outlets (TROs). TROs are standard wall outlets that feature an internal shutter to prevent children from sticking objects into the receptacle.

Check appliances for wear and tear, and location

  • Keep all appliance cords away from hot surfaces such as toasters, ovens and ranges. Cords can be damaged by excess heat.
  • Place appliances away from the sink. Electrical appliances can cause a shock if they come in contact with water – this includes toasters, coffee pots, curling irons and hair dryers. Plug kitchen and bathroom appliances into GFCI protected outlets.
  • Are appliances in good condition? Pay particular attention to erratic operation and damaged wiring or other parts.
  • Do appliance cords hang off counter or table tops? These cords are likely to catch on people, or children, passing by.
  • Have you ever received even a slight shock (other than one from static electricity) from any appliances? Do not touch the appliance until it has been checked by an electrician.
  • When dusting, check lamps and fixtures to ensure they have light bulbs with the correct wattage. Wattage should be of equal or lesser value than that recommended by the manufacturer.

Check your breaker box

  • Is your fuse box or circuit breaker box appropriately labeled? Labeling helps to easily identify what circuits power each room in your home.
  • Make sure everyone of appropriate age knows where the fuse box or circuit breaker box is located and how to restore power to the home.
  • Circuit breakers that are constantly tripping indicate that the circuit is overloaded or that other electrical hazards exist. Consult a qualified, licensed electrician.
  • Is your home protected by Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)? AFCIs are a new type of circuit breaker that recognizes potential fire hazards and shuts off power to the wiring before a problem can occur. If you are interested in having AFCI protection added to your home, consult a qualified, licensed electrician.

Check your smoke detectors

  • Check for the presence and proper placement of smoke alarms and test each one. Smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area.

Be aware of outdoor hazards

  • If you use power tools to work outside, make sure extension cords are not frayed, are marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of your tools. Overloaded cords may lead to electric shock and serious injury.
  • Check for overhead power lines when using ladders to clean your gutters and make sure you always stay a minimum of 10 feet from the lines. Touching an overhead power line can lead to serious injury or even death from electric shock.
  • When digging in your yard to plant new flowers and plants, make sure you know where underground electric lines are located. Always “Call Before You Dig” by dialing 811.
  • If planning on trimming trees, check for overhead power lines. The only safe way to trim trees within 10 feet of power lines is to call a professional. Tree limbs in contact with power lines can act as conductors, and a person can be seriously injured if contact is made.

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