Learn how to keep you and your loved ones safe around electricity
Each year, many people are injured or killed in and around their homes due to unsafe conditions that create fire and electrical shock hazards. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives wanted to share information to create a safe indoor and outdoor environment for you and your family.
Indoor electrical safety
Electrical outlets – Check for loose–fitting plugs, and replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed. If you have young children in your home, cover outlets with plastic safety caps.
Plugs – Never force them into outlets. Don’t remove the grounding pin (third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet, and avoid overloading outlets.
Cords – Make sure they are not frayed or cracked, placed under carpets or rugs or located in high traffic areas. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors or other objects.
Extension cords – Use them only on a temporary basis, not as permanent household wiring. Make sure cords have safety closures to protect young children from shock and mouth burn injuries.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – Make sure GFCI outlets are installed in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, workshop, basement and garage as well as on outdoor outlets. Test them monthly to ensure they’re working properly.
Appliances/Electronics – If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Look for cracks or damage in wiring and connectors. Use surge protectors to protect expensive electronics.
Electrical wiring – Wiring defects are a major cause of residential blazes. Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires or loose lighting fixtures. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that spark and flicker.
Service capacity – As you add more lighting, appliances and electronics, your home’s electrical service capacity may become overburdened. If fuses blow or trip frequently, have a licensed electrician determine the appropriate service requirements.
Outdoor electrical safety
Remember the following when working or playing outside to stay safe.
- Teach children to stay away from electric utility equipment. Never enter a substation; don’t play on pad mounted transformers; fly kites safely away from overhead power lines.
- If you see a downed or sagging power line, stay far away, warn others to stay away and call the utility company or 911.
- If you are involved in a vehicle accident and your vehicle is touching power lines, stay in the car until an electric utility worker tells you it is safe.
- Don’t use electric yard tools if it’s raining or the ground is wet.
- Make sure your outdoor outlets have ground fault (GFCI) protection; use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets don’t have one.
Watch out for overhead power lines…
In many neighborhoods overhead electric lines are part of the landscape, and may be overlooked because we are so familiar with them. Failure to notice electric lines can be a deadly mistake. Some overhead power lines can carry thousands of volts of electricity. Keep yourself and equipment at least ten feet away from power lines and service connections.
- Always look up before using long tools like pruning poles, ladders or antennas.
- Never place tall items like a ladder or antenna near a power line or electric service connection to your home.
- When trimming trees, be aware that broken or dislodged branches may have also become tangled in overhead electric lines, or pushed the wire closer to the ground.
- Be especially aware when working near backyard swimming pools. Pool cleaning equipment, like long metal poles on leaf skimmers, will conduct current to the person holding it.
- …And be aware of underground lines
When you plan your next project such as building or remodeling a deck, planting trees or shrubs or anything else that requires digging, protect yourself first and call before you dig! Underground utilities, such as buried gas, water and electric lines, can be a shovel thrust away from turning a project into a disaster.
To find out where utility lines run on your property, dial 811 from anywhere in the country, or visit www.call811.com a few days prior to digging. Indicate where you’re planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing, and affected local utilities will be notified. In a few days, a locator will arrive to designate the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes and cables with flags or marking paint so you’ll know what’s below. Then the safe digging can begin.
Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines! The 811 service is free and can help you avoid serious injury.
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