Some people still don't get it
Friday, 19 December 2008

Once again, the online battle wages over people removing GFCI protection from their displays so they can run during unsafe conditions. 

Removing or defeating safety devices is what it is - idiotic. People are PROUD of their solution. 'I beat the system! I removed my GFCIs!' These people are not asking the question, 'Should I remove my GFCIs'. No, these people are actively promoting making something unsafe.

What I fight for doesn't just protect the owner, but the visitors too. You have a moral (and the courts would argue LEGAL) obligation to make your display safe.

The devices I argue for prevent accidents, not 'on purposes'. Voiceovers, fences, and the like are good but they are only 1 layer of protection. People see the warning on cigarettes, yet they still smoke. I have signs. I have voiceovers. Yet at least once or twice a season I see someone loose control of their child. The next thing you know they are latched onto a wireframe, or standing on top of some lights. To say it can never happen to you is wishful at best, and down right negligent at the worst.

GFCIs that are working properly trip for one reason only: current is leaking from what should be a CLOSED LOOP system. Current, that if given the chance, will happilly leak through you and KILL you. Anyone who believes that some how electricity magically transforms from something deadly to something safe simply because it flows through some Christmas lights is making a DEADLY WRONG conclusion. 60 milliamps @110V is all it takes to stop your heart. (And don't get me started about 60 Hz power being more deadly that it's European counterpart, 50 Hz).

And also allow me to point out that it does NOT take rain to make things unsafe. The only thing current needs to flow is a difference in potential and a path. Water does make a convenient path, but it's not the only one. What about that gutter you hung those icicles on? How how about that aluminum siding? If they lead to a path of different potential current will flow through them. Yes, not running in the rain is a good idea. Running during fair weather without GFCI protection however is still idiotic.

All the reasons people give for removing their GFCI boil down to one thing: Allowing them to run a display with an EXISTING UNSAFE CONDITION. For what reason? You have no MORAL or LEGAL obligation to provide a display to anyone.

So, what drives these people then? Ego, plain and simple. That's an unpopular view around here since it means that many of us are forced to admit to a character flaw. Once you can admit to it, you'll quickly see the need to KEEP your protective devices.

So, let's review here:
1 - Electricity kills. It does NOT care if it's a blow dryer or a Christmas decoration.
2 - GFCIs protect against unsafe conditions.
3 - Removing GFCIs removes this protection.

So, I leave it up to you. Give me another word that I should use to describe the actions of people who willfully remove their last line of defense just so they can give people they don't know the ability to look at some blinking lights in unsafe conditions?

For me, idiotic fits the bill : (src: Websters)

Main Entry:
id·i·ot·ic
Pronunciation: \ˌi-dē-ˈä-tik\
Variant(s): also id·i·ot·i·cal \-ˈä-ti-kəl\
Function: adjective
Date: 1713

1 : characterized by idiocy
2 : showing complete lack of thought or common sense : foolish