CPSC recommends GFCI protected outlets to prevent electric shock
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Federal safety regulators with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are investigating the death of Lubbock 14-year-old Madison Coe, whose family says she was electrocuted while using her plugged in cell phone in a bathtub at her father's home in Lovington, NM.
The Lovington Police Department released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque, New Mexico has issued a preliminary finding in the case, saying the cause of death was electrocution.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission tells us its role is to investigate the products involved in this incident.
A cellphone, a charging cord and an extension cord were found at the scene, according to Lovington Police.
A representative says CPSC will work with local authorities in Lovington throughout this process of investigating the products.
CPSC offered some safety tips to us, wanting to remind people that water and electricity don't mix.
The commission encourages people to look into installing GFCI protected outlets, or a ground fault circuit interrupter, to protect against electrocution.
According to the CPSC, a GFCI can protect you from severe or fatal electric shocks.
The National Electric Code requires new construction or major renovations to have GFCI protection in areas subject to water such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoor areas.
General Manager of Davis Moore Electric, Rustin Moore, explained how a GFCI works.
"Your standard circuit breaker is looking for an overload or a short circuit only. The ground fault circuit interrupter, it's looking for any current flow outside of the intended path. That being from just those two top prongs right there. If it leaks to ground a little bit, if something falls in water, if you become energized it knows it. It takes just a small amount to sense that the current is not flowing on its intended path. And immediately, it stops the deadly flow," Moore said.
In other words, the GFCI shuts off the power as soon as it senses any kind of interruption in the normal electrical flow.
The CPSC says any GFCI should be tested on a monthly basis.
As Moore demonstrated, this can be done safely with a lamp plugged into that outlet.
"Press the 'test' button. And then reset it. If everything comes back on the way it was, any indicator lights, your loads, you feel that feedback from the button, everything is good," Moore said.
If you live in an older home that doesn't have GFCI protected outlets, you can get them installed.
It is recommended by both electricians and the CPSC to not try it on your own, but rather to use a qualified electrician to install them.
"I think it's worth the peace of mind to go that route, especially if you're not comfortable with it," Moore said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a fact sheet with everything you need to know about these protective GFCIs which can be viewed here: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/099_0.pdf
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