News Published: May 18, 2012 - 8:33 AM

UIL Holdings urgest customers to consider electrical safety

By UIL Holdings Corporation

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NEW HAVEN, CT - In recognition of National Electrical Safety Month, UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL) urges customers to consider safety issues when working with electrical appliances or devices at home or in the workplace.

Electricity powers modern life. It runs the devices and appliances that allow us to be comfortable at home and productive at work. However, it can also create unseen hazards that can cause injury or death. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical fires claim 280 lives each year and injure 1,000 more, and the most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show that on average there are more than 400 electrocutions each year in the United States.

“We urge our customers to think about electrical safety this month, and to develop good safety practices that will keep them and their families safe at home and at work throughout the year,” said Joe Thomas, vice president for Electric System Operations and Client Fulfillment at The United Illuminating Company, UIL’s electric utility.

“It’s also a good time to look around your home or office for potential hazards, such as damaged cords, and to make sure your home’s electrical safety equipment is up-to-date and meets code. Finally, be sure to test your smoke detectors and replace the batteries if you haven’t done so recently. Smoke detectors should be tested monthly and their batteries should be replaced at least twice a year, when you change your clocks, or more often if necessary,” Thomas said.

National Electrical Safety Month is sponsored each year by the Electrical Safety Foundation International to raise awareness about potential electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety. The foundation and UIL safety experts offer the following tips:

Ø Practice Extension Cord/Power Strip Safety: Use only undamaged extension cords and power strips that bear the mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and discard cords that appear damaged. Never “overload” a cord or power strip: Make sure its wattage rating is at least as high as the tools or appliances plugged into it. Don’t run extension cords under rugs or carpets, and check to make sure the cord is not hot to the touch. Remember, if you’re using an extension cord in a kitchen, bathroom or other area where it could come into contact with water, plug it into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (see below).

Ø Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters To Reduce Shock Hazard: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are devices that can either be installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord to protect you from electrical shocks and reduce fire hazard. They are often found in place of standard electrical outlets, and are typically installed in areas where water and electricity are in close proximity, such as bathrooms and kitchens. They can detect whether the amount of electricity flowing into a circuit differs from the amount returning, indicating a loss of current, and quickly cut power to that circuit. They should be installed by a qualified, licensed electrician.

Ø Reduce Fire Risk with Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) replace standard circuit breakers in your home’s electrical service panel. They can detect potentially hazardous conditions that might lead to electrical arcing or sparking, and shut off electricity before a fire can start. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters could prevent more than half the electrical fires that occur every year. They should be installed by a qualified, licensed electrician.

Ø Prevent Childhood Injuries with Tamper-Resistant Receptacles: Tamper-Resistant Receptacles can help prevent childhood shock and burn injuries caused by tampering with wall outlets. They appear similar to standard wall outlets but are designed with spring-loaded cover plates that close off the outlet’s slots when they’re not in use. They should be installed by a qualified, licensed electrician.

Ø Considering an Electric Vehicle? Have a licensed electrician or qualified professional evaluate the electrical service to your home, your electrical panel and your wiring to ensure is adequate to safely charge an electric vehicle. Installation of the vehicle charging system should only be done by a qualified professional in accordance with any applicable permit requirements and codes.

Ø Home Generator Safety: Any home generator that plugs into your home’s wiring should be connected via a transfer switch by a licensed electrician. This ensures that when the generator is in use, house wiring is isolated from utility lines. Improper installation of generators can damage the generators, or create safety hazards for utility employees working on poles, or even the general public. If adding a natural gas-fired generator, consult your gas utility to ensure there is adequate pressure. Make sure exhaust is properly vented to reduce risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Southern Connecticut Gas Company: 800-659-8299
Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation: 860-727-3000
Berkshire Gas Company: 800-292-5012

Ø Buying an Air Conditioner or Other Major Appliance? Contact a licensed electrical contractor to make sure your electrical service can accommodate the additional load.

For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International online at

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