Electric safety tips
Call Before You Dig
Planning a home improvement job? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or deck? WAIT! Here's what you need to know first:
Whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, smart digging means calling 811 three full working days before each job. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees and shrubs. The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. Digging without calling can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm you and those around you and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Calling 811 three full working days before every digging job gets your underground utility lines marked for free and helps prevent undesired consequences.
Here are some tips you can use at your home today to ensure electrical safety:
- New wiring and wiring repairs need to be done by a licensed professional
- It’s a good idea to have your wiring inspected from time to time
- Maintain electrical cords and appliances in good working order; any cracked or frayed cord should be replaced
- Any appliance that sparks, smokes, or trips the circuit breaker repeatedly should be professionally repaired or replaced
- Don’t overload an outlet with too many plugs
Never run extension cords under rugs or furniture - extension cords are designed for occasional, temporary use
- Always pull on the plug, not the cord to unplug your appliances
- Be sure to keep electricity and water away from each other - don't put a radio on the edge of the tub, for instance
- Outlets near a water source should be protected with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter)
- Never throw water on an electrical fire - use a properly rated fire extinguisher or baking soda
- Unplug the toaster before attempting to get out stuck bread
- Use plastic plug covers on unused outlets
- Check light bulbs to ensure they are not above the recommended wattage for the lamp or socket
- If using a portable heater, read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions
- Don’t allow pets to play with or chew on cords or plugs
- Keep looking up! That’s good advice for a healthy attitude and great advice when it comes to being safe around electricity
- When working or playing outdoors, be aware of overhead wires
- Whether you’re moving a ladder, installing a new antenna, cleaning the eaves troughs, vacuuming the pool, trimming hedges or just climbing a tree, or flying a kite, keep looking up!
- Don’t use any metal or wire in a kite
- When planting trees, plan for future growth: avoid power lines
- Never use electrical tools where it is wet or damp
- All outside outlets should have ground fault circuit
- interrupters (GFCIs) and weather covers
- Frequently inspect the cords and plugs on outdoor tools
- If you see a downed wire, don’t touch it! Call for help and warn others to stay clear
- If a wire should fall on your vehicle, stay put and wait for help. If you need to make an emergency escape, jump clear of the vehicle without touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time. Then, don’t run: shuffle away to avoid moving from an energized area to one that isn't.
Stay safe during an electric storm
- Pay attention to storm watches and warnings
- Stay indoors if at all possible
- Never take cover under a tree or other obvious lightning target
- Go to a low area and crouch (don’t lie) down if caught out of doors
- If swimming, get out of the water at the first sign of a storm
- Don’t bathe or shower during a storm
- Don’t use the telephone except for an emergency
- Unplug electronic equipment
- If driving, pull over in a safe area, away from trees and wires and stay inside your vehicle until the storm passes.
WARNING: If you connect a portable electric generator to the main electrical supply coming into the house, the electrical generator could feed back into your electric cooperative's system and electrocute workers who are repairing the electrical lines.
To avoid back feeding of electricity into utility systems, you must have a qualified, licensed electrician install a double-pole, double-throw transfer switch (see illustration) between the generator and utility power in compliance with all state and local electrical codes. (A minimum of 10-gauge wiring must be used.)
Your generator might not be large enough to handle the load of all the lights, appliances, TV, etc. at one time. To prevent dangerous overloading, calculate wattage requirements correctly.