Perhaps one of the most challenging traditions of the holiday season is making a shopping list and checking it twice.  To help alleviate gift-giving stress, ESFI suggests that you consider gifting home safety devices to your loved ones this year.  These unique gift ideas go beyond the traditional, providing the added gift of safety to those with an older home.

Contact a licensed electrician to install arc fault circuit interrupters and ground fault circuit interrupters that provide enhanced protection against electrical fires and shocks or electrocution.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)

Arc fault circuit interrupters are advanced safety devices that replace the standard circuit breakers in a home’s electrical service panel to help prevent electrical fires before they have a chance to start. Arcing faults, a major cause of the 46,500 home electrical fires that occur in the United States every year, happen when electrical wiring becomes damaged, stressed, overheated or worn.  AFCIs detect hazardous arcing conditions and shut down the electricity to the circuit before a fire can start.  The current edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that AFCIs be installed in the bedrooms and other living areas of all newly constructed homes.  Standard circuit breakers in existing homes can also easily be upgraded to AFCIs.  AFCIs should be installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.  AFCIs need to be tested every month, using the TEST button, to ensure they are working properly.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a device designed to protect people from electric shock and electrocution.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, installation of GFCIs in all homes could prevent over two-thirds of the electrocutions that occur each year in and around the home.  A GFCI constantly monitors electricity flowing in a circuit.  If it senses any loss of current, the GFCI quickly switches off power to that circuit.

GFCIs can be installed in the main service panel, but are more commonly used in place of standard electrical outlets.  Typically, GFCIs are installed in areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as the bathroom, garage, kitchen, basement, and outdoors.  Portable GFCIs are another type of GFCI that require no tools to install, providing flexibility in using receptacles that are not permanently GFCI-protected.  They are commonly used outdoors.  GFCIs can be damaged or wear out over time as a result of voltage surges from lightning, utility switching or simply normal usage.  An outlet may still work, but if the GFCI is not functioning properly, it is not providing shock protection.  Test GFCIs monthly by using the TEST button to ensure they are in proper working order.