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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) together urge consumers to be aware of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), mainly - the "TEST" and "RESET" Buttons - on outlets in bathrooms, kitchens and breaker panels - in their home and business, and to test them monthly and after every major electrical storm.


To get the message out, as part of National Electrical Safety Month in May, the NESF recently launched the "Test and Protect" GFCI Awareness media campaign, sending print and video news releases to media across the country.


More than 400 million GFCIs, which prevent serious electrical shock or electrocution by shutting off power in a circuit if they detect leakage of electrical current, have been installed in homes and businesses across the country since the early 1970s. However, a recent industry study showed that roughly 10 percent may be damaged under common circumstances, including power surges due to electrical storms.


"GFCIs have likely saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of serious injuries in the last three decades," noted NESF Executive Director Michael Clendenin. "They should not be taken for granted, however; it is critical they be tested just as you would test your smoke alarm. It takes just ten seconds a month to protect yourself and your family."


The NESF recently presented CPSC Chairwoman Ann Brown with its Beacon Award in recognition for all she and the CPSC has done to help NESF further the cause of electrical safety. The Foundation also presented Chairwoman Brown with copies of the GFCI campaign materials and the Foundation's May as National Electrical Safety Month brochure.


"We at CPSC support the good work the NESF is doing to help keep the public aware of electrical safety issues in the home, school and workplace." said Chairwoman Brown. "In that spirit, I salute the NESF and the launch of the "Test and Protect" GFCI Awareness Campaign. This campaign will alert homeowners and business people to the need to test GFCIs every month and after every major electrical storm to ensure this vital protection is still there and working effectively."


Ground faults occur when the electrical current in an electrical appliance or other product stays outside the path where it should normally flow. If a person provides a path for the live current to the ground, he or she may be severely shocked or even electrocuted. GFCIs, detecting even a minimal difference between electricity flowing out of and returning to the device, act quickly to intercede and shut off the flow of electrical current through the circuit (and a person) helping to prevent injury or death.


"The GFCI test is simple," said Clendenin. "Simply plug a nightlight into a GFCI outlet and turn it on. Press the "TEST" button; the light should go off. Press the "RESET" button; the light should go back on. If the light does not go out when the "TEST" button is pressed, you should contact a qualified electrician to correct the problem."



For more information on GFCIs and electrical safety in the home, school and workplace, the NESF website, www.nesf.org features an interactive GFCI demo and educational material. Interested parties can also request more information by e-mail at info@nesf.org. by phone at 703-841-3229, by fax at 703-841-3329 or by mail by sending a self-addressed, stamped (55 cent) envelope to:


National Electrical Safety Foundation

1300 N. 17th St., Suite 1847

Rosslyn, VA 22209


The NESF, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1994, promotes electrical safety in the home, school and workplace through ongoing public education, community relations and proactive media relations, by sponsoring May as National Electrical Safety Month and by serving as a library for electrical safety information.

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