GFCI or ground fault current interrupters measure the current flowing into the outlet through black or hot wires. If the GFCI deteds any difference greater than 7 milliamps, it shuts off the current. Any difference in the current is an indication that the currents is somehow shorting or leaking. These are dangerous situations, and a GFCI will shut down faster than a standard circuit breaker or fuse.

NESC and NEC required the intallation of GFCIs in the United States. According to a statistic in the US, if a GFCI is installed in every home, 2/3 of residential electrocution could have been prevented.

Recommended areas to put in GFCI re the following:

Kitchen counters
Garage walls
Unfinished basements and crawl spaces

Water and water pipes are common on these places, and water and water pipes are good at attracting current away from its path, to your body.

Other information related to GFCI could be found on these carefully selected links.

How does a GFCI outlet work?
A GFCI is much more subtle. When you look at a normal 120-volt outlet in the United States, there are two vertical slots and then a round hole centered below them. The left slot is slightly larger than the right. The left slot is called "neutral," the right slot is called "hot" and the hole below them is called "ground." Read more...

What is a Ground Fault Current Interrupter (VIDEO)

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) - Product Information
The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection of receptacles located outdoors and in bathrooms, garages and spa areas. This GFCI circuit breaker provides protection against overloads, short circuits and ground faults. Read more...

Product safety tips from UL - Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)
UL periodically revises requirements in its Standards for Safety to harmonize with international requirements, address code and safety issues, and accommodate new product developments as applicable. UL has adopted new and revised requirements for ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) that become effective January 1, 2003.  Read more...

What is a Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor (GFCI) and How it Can Protect Your Family
As a parent, you’ve probably never heard of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), but these little devices are a major advance in preventing electrical shock in and around the home. Look at the picture to the right – you probably have a few of these already installed in the outlets around your house. Read more...

Prevent Electrocutions: Install Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs
This fact sheet provides information about how to prevent electrocutions in pools, spas and hot tubs by installing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers install ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection in pools, spas and hot tubs to prevent electrical shock hazards caused by underwater lighting circuits and in electric circuits of spas and hot tubs. Read more...

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