By Mike Evans, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety CenterMay 3, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. - Each year, electricity injures or kills more than a dozen Soldiers and civilians. That might not sound like a lot , but what's frustrating is most electrical-related accidents are the result of human error. Soldiers and civilians often don't use proper protective equipment or correctly follow the procedures to ensure an electrical source is not energized before servicing it. In addition to these injuries and deaths, the Army loses an average of five vehicles and two buildings to electrical fires annually.
These incidents aren't specific to the Army. Nationwide, home electrical failures or malfunctions cause more than 50,000 fires each year, resulting in 450 deaths, nearly 1,500 injuries and about $1.5 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. To help prevent these incidents, it's vital folks know the ins and outs of their electrical systems and the safety concerns associated with the latest residential technologies before bringing them into their homes.
There are simple improvements that can be made to any home or office to increase electrical safety without undertaking a major renovation. This includes installing arc fault circuit interrupters that prevent fires by detecting hazardous arcing conditions, ground fault circuit interrupters that thwart shocks and tamper-resistant receptacles that replace standard wall outlets to protect children from shocks and burns.
We hear a lot about the electric vehicles, smart meters and renewable energy sources. Yet, there's not a lot of information readily available to educate consumers about the potential electrical safety hazards. Everyone in the Army family needs to be educated about these new technologies and have an electrical system evaluation performed before adding new components to their home.
At work, the newly released Department of the Army Pamphlet 385-26, The Army Electrical Safety Program, dated Feb. 1, 2013, provides electrical safety guidance to protect Army personnel, facilities and equipment against electrical hazards. The publication covers a myriad of topics, including electrical safety requirements, tactical electrical safety and electrical safety for all Army activities.
Safety awareness and education are key in preventing electrical fires, injuries and fatalities. Get the facts and don't get zapped!
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and safety professionals here at the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center are happy to provide material to raise awareness about potential home hazards and the importance of electrical safety. The Electrical Safety Foundation International sponsors National Electrical Safety Month to increase public awareness of the electrical hazards around us at home, work, school and play.
This year's awareness program educates the public about emerging technologies and the electrical hazards associated with them. These technologies include electric vehicles, solar power, wind power and smart meters.
For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.electrical-safety.org. The USACR/Safety Center's electrical safety awareness program provides information and tools in an effort to help organizations plan and execute National Electrical Safety Month activities. To learn more, visit https://safety.army.mil/soh/INDUSTRIALSAFETY/Electrical/tabid/547/Default.aspx.