As I’ve said before, I’ve spent years in the electrical business working hard to help people save money and keep safe. But I’m not really any different from any other American. At the end of the day, I get to lay down my work for a while and come home to my wife and children, and I want nothing more in all the world than for them to be happy and safe. For me, that’s one of the places where being a parent and being a Top Garland electrician can come together. I have the expertise from my trade to do what any parent would want to do; make your home safer for your family. Which makes this story I’m about to share with you hit me even harder than it would otherwise. I can’t think of anything worse than something like this befalling the people I love.
Not so long ago, a mother in Texas was bathing her five and six year-old children when disaster struck. A hair dryer, plugged into an outlet nearby, was accidentally pulled off a nearby counter, and wound up falling into the bathtub. The current from the hair dryer quickly passed into the bathwater. Neither child survived.
What makes the story even more tragic is that the deaths of these children could have been prevented with an investment of less than sixty dollars in equipment and labor costs. Specifically, installing a GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, could have saved the lives of these children. The home the family lived in was an older home, and as a result the circuit in the bathroom wasn’t equipped with this simple yet incredibly important piece of equipment.
A GFCI is designed to quickly interrupt the flow of electric current when it detects that the current is imbalanced, which is a sign that current’s passing through something other than what it’s supposed to, like a person. This can be a danger when we’re dealing with outlets close to water; the composition and chemical structure of water make it an extremely effective conductor of electric current. It doesn’t take very much water, either; unplugging an appliance with your hand in a small amount of spilled water on a counter top can cause you to suddenly complete a circuit to the ground, giving you a very nasty shock.
As you might expect, this means that a GFCI should (and by code, must) be installed anywhere there’s a electric device close to water. This isn’t limited to kitchens and bathrooms either; GFCIs should also be installed on outlets located in garages, near any counter top, near pools and hot tubs, and on any external outlets.
We don’t always think of external outlets as needing a GFCI, but they do; remember, any electronic equipment you use outside interacts with the elements. Using an electric lawn care device, like a weed whacker or electric mower on wet grass can be dangerous, especially if you happen to run over the cord, which could create a circuit between the electricity and the ground through your body.
One of the most common issues I see where GFCIs are lacking, and could be potentially dangerous, lie where there is plenty of water: your swimming pool. Older pools, like older homes, may not have a GFCI installed on the pool light located under the surface. Over time, the seal that keeps water out of the pool light can break down; if and when they do, it can turn your pool from a fun place to spend time to a place to get to get your goose cooked in the blink of an eye.
Although all outlets like the ones listed above must be equipped with GFCIs according to code, this hasn’t always been the case. Older homes, like the one where those two children were killed, may have been built before these regulations were put in place. If you have any question whatsoever I strongly recommend that you contact a Top Garland electrician as soon as possible to perform an inspection.
For more information on installing a GFCI, tips or if you need a Top Garland Electrician ElectricMan to the rescue! We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.