The ABCs of AFCIs and GFCIs: Your protection from home electrocution

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on May 31, 2017

GFCI, electrical safety month, consumers, electrical safety

May is Electrical Safety Month and NFPA and ESFI are working together to help raise awareness of electrical hazards.

During this last week of the campaign, we’re raising awareness of the importance of GFCIs and AFCIs. While these acronyms may look like alphabet soup, they’re actually important devices that can help keep you and your loved ones safer from shock and electrocution.


The formal name for AFCI is “arc-fault circuit-interrupters.” When an electrical switch is opened or closed, an arc (or more simply put, a discharge of electricity across a circuit) occurs. Unintentional arcs can occur at loose connections or where wires or cords have been damaged. Such arcs can lead to high temperatures and sparking, possibly igniting flammable materials. AFCIs protect against fire by continuously monitoring the electrical current in a circuit and shutting off the circuit when unintended arcing occurs.


A GFCI (ground-fault circuit-interrupter) works similarly to an AFCI. A ground-fault is an unintentional electrical path between a source of electrical current and a grounded surface. Electrical shock can occur if a person comes into contact with an energized part. GFCIs can greatly reduce the risk of shock by immediately shutting off an electrical circuit when that circuit represents a shock hazard (i.e. when a person comes in contact with a faulty appliance and a grounded surface).


Are you wondering if these devices actually make a difference? Well, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 50% of home electrocutions have been prevented by the introduction of GFCIs! That’s great news!


Does your home have life-saving AFCIs or GFCIs? Contact a qualified electrician who can survey the house and install these devices properly to help prevent shock and electrocution from happening in your home. Once installed, download ESFI’s infographic, which takes you through the steps for testing these devices monthly. If you have any questions or concerns, your electrician will be able to answer them for you.

More information about AFCIs and GFCIs and Electrical Safety Month can be found on NFPA’s electrical safety webpage and at