Jeannie McNeil and her three kids, Sarah- 7, Madison- 4 and Luke- 2, enjoy spending the hot summer days in the backyard and playing in the pool.
“As soon as they wake up all they want to do is change into their bathing suits,” she says, “we have breakfast and lunch outside, my kids pretty much live in the backyard this time of year.”
But it’s all fun and games until someone gets shocked!
Last year Jeannie’s eldest daughter was electrically shocked after plugging in a wet cord into an outdoor outlet in the backyard.
“I was mortified; I didn’t think this could happen to us.”
The mother of three explains that their 12-year-old Brampton home was built with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, GFCI, outlets in the backyard and in other mandatory vicinities as stipulated by the electrical code.
“I thought our GFCI outlets would prevent this sort of thing,” she says.
What Jeannie didn’t realize then but understands now is that the mechanism in the GFCI outlet, that shuts off the power when it senses a small leak of electricity within the circuit, can wear out after ten years.
Michael Neumann an Electrical Solutions Specialist with Birnie HOME SAFE explains that GFCIs can be misleading because the “TEST” and “RESET” functionalities will still work even if its safety mechanism wears out.
“All you’re really doing is checking the spring inside the device, homeowners should have their GFCI outlets checked and replaced by a Licensed Electrical Contractor [LEC] every ten years.” Michael says.
While Jeannie’s daughter Sarah didn’t suffer any life threatening injuries, McNeil knows it could’ve been worse.
“It was such a scary moment I can so vividly remember my daughter’s scream…we took her to the emergency room and I recall the nurse saying that these shocks are all too common, especially among children,” she says.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, ESFI, more than 30,000 non-fatal shock accidents occur each year in north America. Today Jeannie understands the importance of GFCI technology and educating her children about electrical safety.
And as for the outdoor outlets?
“We’ve had all of our outdoor outlets replaced by a licensed electrician and we’ve also installed GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers in our panel,” Jeannie says.
Birnie HOME SAFE stresses the importance of installing GFCI outlets and breakers in your home especially in areas where your outlets are in close proximity to water.
It’s also important to remember that heavy rainfalls are common during the summer time which can compromise your outlets.
“Awareness of electrical hazards around water can help prevent deaths and injuries,” explains Michael, “this may be one of the most important summer safety tips.”
But this isn’t the only safety tip homeowners should remember.
We’ve compiled a list, with the help of our electricians, to keep you and your loved one’s safe. No more summertime sadness!
- All outdoor receptacles should be covered to stay dry; this is especially important around pools, spas and other summer water activities.
- Make sure all electrical equipment used for swimming pools is grounded and all outlets are GFCI protected.
- Do not touch an electrical toy or appliance if you are wet or standing in water.
- Make sure all major appliances like your washers, dryers and air conditioners are plugged into grounded outlets and not into extension cords.
- Stay clear of overhead power lines and wires. Be sure not to touch any overhead lines with a poles or ladders.
- Keep kites, balloons, drones or motorized planes away from power lines.
- Inspect all of your appliances and devices for frayed or broken cords.
- Use outdoor-rated extension cords outside!
- Do not swim during a thunderstorm.
- In the event of an emergency, know where your circuit breakers are and how to safely turn them off.
- Go around your home and see that you have GFCI outlets installed in all “wet” areas of your home.
- Call 911 in case of an emergency. Do not touch someone who is being shocked until the electricity has been turned off.
If you’d like to find out more about GFCI technology or if you’re interested in installing these devices in your home drop us a line or sign-up for our no-fee assessment.