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Teaching electrical safety as part of fire & burn prevention education

May is National Electrical Safety Month, and this year’s theme is "Connected to Safety," focused on  emerging technology that makes a home safe and efficient.  While fire & burn prevention remain a year-round necessity, tapping into topical and themed observances allows Fire & Life Safety (FLS) educators both a “conversation starter” and new slant to teaching electrical safety in the community. 

This year’s theme provides information and resources on new technologies which carry new precautions, such as safe charging of electric vehicles, and safe use of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs .  And as we enter the warmer months, electrical safety in and around pools, hot tubs, and spas is another topic area that will be of interest and value to your community members. 

In the U.S., from 2014-2018, electrical distribution or lighting equipment, such as wiring, lighting, cords, and plugs, was involved in an estimated average of roughly 34,000 (10%) reported home structure fires per year. These incidents caused an average of 470 (18%) civilian deaths, 1,100 civilian injuries (10%), and $1.4 billion (19%) in direct property damage annually. 

There are number of electrical safety topics that FLS educators can address broadly to raise awareness among all community members.  Targeted efforts to address high risk populations and behaviors are best done when tied to your community data related to fires, burns and other injuries incurred as a result of electrical causes.  A robust  Community Risk Assessment allows FLS educators an opportunity to dive deeper into their community’s hazard profile, to assure meeting the needs of the community, while broad social media and awareness campaigns provide a context within which to do the tailored work.

Consider how you can use Electrical Safety month to spark (pun intended) your social media and community education efforts to raise awareness of simple actions people can take to prevent fires and burns from electricity.   And take a look at your community data to find areas where you can address disparities among specific neighborhoods or populations to create tailored opportunities for people to lead safer lives. 

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Andrea Vastis
Senior Director, Public Education, public health promotion & education professional passionate about eliminating disparities in access, education and resources.

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