April 30, 2020 – Electricity helps make our lives easier, but its potential for shock and fire-related hazards are often taken for granted. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) actively supports National Electrical Safety Month, an annual campaign sponsored by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which raises awareness of potential home electrical hazards, the importance of electrical fire safety, and the safety of electrical and non-electrical workers, each May.
“Computers, kitchen appliances, heaters, fans, air conditioners – any equipment powered by electricity has the potential to be involved in an electrical fire,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “In our current environment, amid this coronavirus pandemic, thousands of working professionals and students have left their offices and classrooms to continue their work from home. This means more family members are now online, watching television, and using appliances all at once, and for longer periods of time.”
The good news, said Carli, is that people can take simple steps to greatly reduce electrical hazards like learning the proper way to plug in appliances, safeguarding electrical outlets in the home, and more. To help address this issue, NFPA and ESFI ask residents to adhere to the following safety tips:
- Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets where they can get damaged.
- Never put more than one plug in each receptacle. An outlet may have one or more receptacles – one to receive each plug.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage in a lamp or other light fixture. Check the sticker on the lamp to determine the maximum wattage light bulb to use.
Residents should also have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including scheduling electrical inspections when buying or remodeling a home. Even during this time of social distancing, electricians are still working and considered essential businesses in every state that has issued a shelter-in-place order. It is critical that residents call the utility company or a qualified electrician immediately if they experience any of the following:
- Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
- A tingling feeling when touching an electrical appliance
- Discolored or warm wall outlets
- A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Sparks from an outlet
According to NFPA and ESFI, contact with electricity is a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities. During National Electrical Safety Month, electrical and non-electrical workers are encouraged to participate in safety training programs that focus on personal protective equipment, safe work practices, and risk assessments to help avoid electrical injuries, deaths, and OSHA violations, as outlined in NFPA 70, National Electrical Code® (NEC®) and NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.
For additional tips and resources including infographics, fact sheets, and videos about electrical fire safety, visit NFPA’s electrical safety webpage.
Information about electrical codes and standards, and worker safety training, can be found on NFPA’s electrical solutions webpage.
As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to increase public awareness of the electrical hazards around us at home, work, school, and play. ESFI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.esfi.org.
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.