Prevention

Kennelly proposed one of the most effective precautions against electrical injury in 1927 when he suggested keeping one hand in the pocket when visiting an electrical plant.21 Household precautions include the education of parents about the hazards of unused sockets, including the use of plastic caps and two-step sockets, the hazards of extension cords, and restricting access to small metallic objects that can be inserted into the outlet. 22 A visit to the emergency department for a benign low-voltage injury in the toddler is a fertile time to provide safety education to parents.

Ground fault interrupters (GFIs) should be installed in circuits around water in the home (e.g., the bathroom or kitchen). These are fast-acting circuit breakers that electronically detect current leaks before they become a danger. A GFI will trip when it senses a 0.005-A difference in the current flowing into an appliance on the hot leg as compared with the current leaving the appliance on the neutral leg—thus assuring protection against a shock. Other measures that home handymen can take are to use double-insulated power tools, inspect cords and insulation on tools, and make sure that screw connections and contacts are tight and free from corrosion to prevent arcing.

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