Electrical Safety Tips

Inside the Home

There are 300-400 electrical accidents or electrocutions inside the home every year. Make sure you are using electricity safely in your home with these tips:

Outside the Home

"Look Up and Live"

Overhead power lines are not insulated in most environments. Insulators on the poles provide the insulation from ground. When a conductor comes in contact with the lines and ground the electricity will flow. Underground power lines are insulated but can be easily damaged causing a path to ground. Make sure you are never the path to ground by following these tips:

Never remove the third prong from an electrical plug
When you plug an appliance into an outlet, the third prong connects directly to the grounding system in the electrical network of your home, barn, or other buildings. The cord containing this prong connects to the inside metal parts of the appliance or tool. If there is an electrical short inside the appliance, this third wire will conduct the electricity to ground. If the prong has been removed, the connection to ground is severely hindered and your body may become the best route to ground.

Never 'slug' or 'penny' a fuse
The wiring will safely carry a given amount of current without damage. A short in an appliance or tool can cause the electrical flow to exceed the safe range. Protection for the wiring is built into the service panel fuses or circuit breakers. In the event of a short, the current will limited by the fuse 'blowing' or circuit breaker 'tripping'. This creates and opening stopping the flow of electricity. A typical breaker or fuse rating is 15A (15 amps). When the current exceeds 15A, the fuse will blow and stop the current. If the fuse is slugged or a penny inserted where the fuse goes, the current will not be stopped and the wiring will overheat and start to burn, very possibly causing a fire.

Never overload a circuit
Plugging too many appliances into the outlets serviced by the fuse or circuit breaker will overload a circuit. Indications of overloading are breakers that trip often. A tripped breaker should be investigated for the cause prior to resetting the breaker. The circuit may have been interrupted because a short occurred or the circuit is overloaded. A short can be in an appliance or the wiring of the building. Overloading occurs when an appliance requires more current than the fuse or breaker will allow. Overloading can also occur when you plug too many appliances onto the circuit. An individual appliance may not require enough current to trip the breaker but when added to the other loads on the circuit, may cause the total current to exceed the maximum allowed. Other indications of overloading may include lights dimming when an appliance comes on. Heating elements in irons, toasters, hair dryers and other small appliances may not heat up correctly. Using excessive quantities of outlet extenders, devices that turn one outlet into multiple outlets, and extension cords will overload the circuit. Removing some of the appliances from the circuit will relieve the overloaded condition.

Never use a damaged cord
A damaged electrical cord can cause a short resulting in an injury or a fire. Always repair or replace a damaged electrical. Many things can damage cords. Pull the plug not the cord to unplug an appliance. Don't run cords through traffic areas, foot and/or wheeled traffic can damage a cord very quickly. Cords ran under furniture or rugs can overheat or become damaged. Do not use extension cords that are rated too small for the appliance you are running. Using the cord for a carrying handle can damage cords. Take care of the cords to minimize the chance for damage. Replace any suspect cords.

Never use electrical appliances around water
Water will conduct electricity very well. Wet hands and electrical appliances can cause injuries. Water entering an appliance can cause shorts and fires. Do not use electrical appliances around water or while you are in the water. Some electrical devices are designed for use in wet environments; these devices should only be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Watch for heat buildup
A hot light bulb can burn you and can cause a fire when in contact with combustible material. Lighting fixtures may have a limit on the size of bulbs that can be safely used. A larger bulb may cause excess heat to build up in the bulb and socket. Never cover a lamp with combustible material. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations concerning the placement and free space surrounding an appliance.

Use caution when probing into the space behind the wall surface
Electrical wires are routed between the wall surfaces in most homes and buildings. Driving a nail in the wall to hang a picture or drilling a hole in the wall could hit one of these wires.

Never be part of the path to ground for a power line
Power lines carry several thousand volts of electricity. When moving around power lines always be certain you will not come in contact with the wires. Carrying a ladder, irrigation pipe or other object under a power line may cause the item to come in contact with the over head wires. Kites should never be flown where there is a possibility of contacting a power line. Other items to use caution with are fishing poles, sailboat masts, grain augers, farm equipment, equipment on trailers, long-handled tools, TV antennas, etc.

Never build a structure or pile things under a power line
Building a structure under a power line can cause you to come in contact with the power line. Working on the roof of a building under a line puts you in danger. Stacking hay under the line will raise your body or equipment toward the line. Lines are attached to your home where the power enters your house; these lines also carry potential danger.

Car accidents and power lines 
If you are in a vehicle accident involving a power line, stay in the vehicle if possible. The wire could still be conducting electricity; getting out of the vehicle may put you in danger. If you must leave the vehicle, you must jump clear of the vehicle as far as possible before coming in contact with the ground. Once clear of the vehicle, do not touch the vehicle again. Don't turn around and close the door. When you are clear, don't try to physically help someone else still in the vehicle. This will put both of you in the path to ground.

Never touch a power line that is on the ground
If you ever see a power line on the ground please contact us so we can send a repair crew with the correct equipment.

Never use the improper tools
Rubber gloves used to wash dishes are not safe insulators from electricity. Tools to work with electrical power are specially made tools that must be tested, cleaned, and kept moisture free to provide the protection needed to work a power line that is carrying electricity. Please do not try to 'do it yourself'.