STAFF SGT. MICHAEL FLYNN
1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment
Georgia National Guard
Electrical safety can mean many different things. It can include protection of outlets in your home to knowing that you can’t submerge certain electrically charged items in water. No matter the task, taking appropriate safety measures is important.
In Jasper, Ga., my hometown, a house burned to the ground because of the lack of proper outlet usage. Too many items were plugged in to a faulty outlet. This resulted in a house fire that destroyed all of the contents of the home. Luckily, no one was injured, but two pets died.
Back in 2009, I was in charge of the police academy in Ghazni, Afghanistan. Part of my duties included maintaining a safe environment. Unfortunately, my area was laden with faulty wiring, as my predecessor didn’t do a good job.
As a result, a staff sergeant was shocked not once, but twice. The second shock resulted in a fall. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. As a result, contractors repaired the substandard wiring system.
Because faulty wiring and improper use of outlets can have devastating effects, it is important to follow proper safety steps.
•Never use electrical equipment near water. This is especially important in the hot summer months when we are more apt to be around pools and other outdoor water areas.
•Treat all electrical lines with caution. Even low voltage electrical cords can cause damage if improperly handled. When installing new features such as light switches or ceiling fans, make sure you turn off the breaker. If this isn’t done, sparks could ignite a fire and anyone in contact with energized equipment could receive an electrical shock.
•Don’t overload an outlet. Doing so could lead to a fire by overstressing the electrical current.
•Unplug all appliances when a storm is present. This prevents electrical surges from traveling through the outlets and ultimately protects not only the appliance, but also the house from possible damage and fire.
•Use the correct wattage on light bulbs. This may sound frivolous, but it’s an important tip. Using a higher-wattage bulb than what is stated on the fixture may result in overheating and fire.
Electrical safety may seem like common sense. However, you can read the newspaper or watch the local news and see how failing to follow electrical safety rules can lead to fire. If electrical safety is not adhered to, it not only can damage structures, but also injure people by causing shock, burns or electrocution.
If you have children, make sure to stress the importance of not placing electrical items near water, never overloading electrical outlets and adhering to the rules about not touching outside wires. Make sure the Soldiers and civilians in your workplace are also aware of these issues. Don’t wait until it is too late to address the importance of electrical safety. Prevent the accident before it even has a chance to happen.
Did You Know?
The newly released Department of Army Pamphlet 385-26, The Army Electrical Safety Program, dated Feb. 1, 2013, provides electrical safety guidance to protect Army personnel, facilities and equipment against electrical hazards. The publication covers a myriad of topics, including electrical safety requirements, tactical electrical safety and electrical safety for all Army activities. Safety awareness and education are key in preventing electrical fires, injuries and fatalities. Get the facts and don’t get zapped! Check out the Army’s Electrical Safety Program publication today by visiting https://safety.army.mil/groundsafety/PUBLICATIONS/tabid/352/Default.aspx.