The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had a turbulent year. Unfortunately, it doesnt seem to be getting any better. Last week CPSC lost its quorum again.
For those of you who may not intimately follow the cloak and dagger politics of the safety world, let me explain why all of this matters. A quorum for CPSC means having three commissioners. Without a quorum, CPSC cannot vote on new safety standards, or take aggressive actions against companies that have failed to report hazardous or defective products. Even more importantly, it cannot issue mandatory recalls. Thats right, without a quorum it can only issue voluntary recalls. Which doesnt help in cases like one that came up recently where CPSC was unable to recall a dangerous ATV designed for children (it had no front brakes) because the importer did not agree to a recall.
As CPSC finds itself in limbo once again, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) encourages you to be more proactive in safeguarding your family and home from dangerous electrical products.
Here are the top 5 things you can do to avoid hazardous electrical products:
- Be diligent when buying electrical products from deep discount stores. Many consumers unknowingly purchase counterfeit electrical products. Knock-off extension cords, decorative lights, receptacles, hair dryers, irons, toasters and hundreds of other consumer products have caused shocks, electrocutions and fires. These products are missing key safety features and are often found at deep discount stores, flea markets, and on similar online forums.
- Make sure that your home has Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and that they are working. GFCIs are special outlets that recognize when electricity is leaking from an electrical product and then cut power to that product in milliseconds. GFCIs have been credited for saving thousands of people from electrocution over the last three decades. If GFCIs were installed in all homes, experts suggest that 70 percent of the approximately 400 electrocutions that occur each year in the home could be prevented.
- Use extension cords appropriately. No joke this is an issue. CPSC estimates that about 2,000 people are treated each year for injuries associated with extension cords. Remember that extension cords are designed for temporary use only. Do not run them under furniture or rugs. Replace cracked, worn or frayed extension cords with new ones.
- Use the appropriate wattage of light bulb. Want a brighter room? Just grab a higher wattage light bulb, right? Wrong! A bulb of too high wattage or of the wrong type may lead to fires. Some ceiling fixtures and recessed lights even trap heat.
- Let common sense be your guide. Altering plugs or cords and using electrical products close to water are recipes for disaster. If you ever have any questions or concerns about an electrical product, call the manufacturer or qualified service professional.