May is National Electrical Safety Month and Horry Electric Cooperative is joining with the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to raise awareness about potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety. This year’s campaign challenges people across the country to evaluate the electrical safety of their homes.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, home electrical problems cause more than 51,000 fires each year in the United States, resulting in more than 490 deaths, 1,400 injuries and $1.3 billion in property damage.
Horry Electric encourages members to learn the basics of how the heating and electrical distribution systems in their homes work and make sure they are properly maintained.
“To determine when your electrical system was last inspected, check the label on the cover of your electric service panel,” says Brian Chestnut, safety coordinator for Horry Electric. “Make sure circuit breakers and fuses are correctly labeled with their amperage and what rooms, circuits or outlets they service,” he continues, adding that the correct size and current rating for breakers/fuses should always be used.
“Having a qualified, licensed and bonded electrician help you with the project isn’t a bad idea,” says Chestnut. “They can even help you increase your fire protection by replacing your standard circuit breakers with combination-type arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers if you don’t already have them.”
Another recommendation is to have furnaces cleaned and inspected annually by a licensed, qualified professional. “The same goes for heat pumps,” says Eddy Blackburn, marketing analyst for the Cooperative. “Having your heating and air conditioning system checked and tuned up on an annual basis by a licensed and bonded technician is always a good idea.”
Other suggestions include lowering the thermostat setting on water heaters and being sure to clean the dryer lint filter after each load. “The area around the dryer needs to be free of clutter,” says Chestnut. “Members will also want to check periodically for excessive vibration or movement when the washing machine or dryer are operating because that can put stress on electrical connections.”
“Electrical safety awareness and education among our members, families, employees and communities can help prevent electrical fires, injuries and even fatalities,” says Chestnut. “The Virtual Home, developed by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, is a great resource and we hope members will use it as a tool to evaluate the electrical safety in their home and it’s the first step in accepting the challenge for National Electrical Safety Month.”
“Safety is an important consideration in everything we do here,” says Chestnut, adding that the safety program in place aren’t just for employees. “We have safety programs we’ve presented to schools, churches and civic clubs throughout Horry County, plus we have a lot of information available on horryelectric.com.”
Safety resources available on horryelectric.com:
- Everyday Safety brochure
- Storm Safety brochure
- Trouble in Tiny Town
- Kids Korner
- Safety and reliability
- Complete guide to power outages and safety
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 them online.