By Directorate of Communication and Public Affairs, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety CenterMay 9, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 9, 2013) - Electricity is one of the greatest amenities of modern life, but it also poses very real and very deadly hazards for those who don't respect it.
Each May, the Electrical Safety Foundation International sponsors National Electrical Safety Month to raise awareness of electrical hazards at work, home or anywhere. However, Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees can benefit from understanding their electrical risk any time of year.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, failures or malfunctions of home electrical systems cause more than 50,000 fires each year in the United States, resulting in 450 deaths and nearly 1,500 injuries on average. Soldiers aren't immune to electrical mishaps; injuries suffered in both on- and off-duty electrical accidents result in about 50 restricted duty days annually Army wide. In addition, the Army loses an average of five vehicles and two buildings to electrical fires each year.
Electrical injury and property damage are typically the result of human error, most often from Soldiers not using personal protective equipment or following proper procedures while servicing equipment. Those same trends transfer to the home environment.
"There isn't a lot of information readily available to educate consumers about potential electrical safety hazards," said Mike Evans, electrical safety program manager, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center. "Every member of our Army Family must know about these hazards and have an evaluation performed before adding new components to their home electrical system."
Evans said there are many simple improvements homeowners can make to their electrical systems without undertaking a major renovation. These include installing arc fault circuit interrupters that prevent fires by detecting hazardous arcing conditions, ground fault circuit interrupters that prevent shocks, and tamper-resistant receptacles that replace standard wall outlets to protect children from shocks and burns.
The USACR/Safety Center has developed an electrical safety page (https://safety.army.mil/soh/INDUSTRIALSAFETY/Electrical/tabid/547/Default.aspx) to help Family members and civilian employees understand common electrical hazards. Evans said another good resource is the ESFI's "Virtual Home" website, available at http://virtualhome.esfi.org.