- Check outlets to make sure there are no loose-fitting plugs that can overheat and lead to a fire. Replace broken or missing wall plates and make sure safety plugs cover all unused outlets that are accessible to children.
- Make sure electric cords in your home are not frayed, cracked, placed in high-traffic areas, nailed/stapled down or hidden under carpets, rugs or furniture.
- Extension cords are meant to be used only on a temporary basis. Make sure they are not overloaded and have safety closures to help prevent children from shock hazards and mouth burns.
- Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock. NEVER FORCE A PLUG INTO AN OUTLET IF IT DOESN'T FIT. Plugs should fit securely into outlets. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) can help prevent electrocution and should be used in any area where water may come into contact with electricity. Test GFCIs according to the manufacturer's instructions monthly and after major electrical storms to make sure they are working properly. Do not use an appliance or device that trips a GFCI on a non-GFCI-protected circuit. Instead, take the appliance to an authorized repair center to be checked for faulty wiring or replace it.
- Make sure the wattage of bulbs in light fixtures are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture. Bulbs should be screwed in securely, as loose bulbs may overheat.
- Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used.
- If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
- Space heaters are meant to supply supplemental heat. Keep space heaters at least 3 ft. away from any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs. Don't use in rooms where children are unsupervised, and remember to turn off and unplug when not in use. Do not use space heaters with extension cords; plug directly into an outlet on a relatively unburdened circuit.
Electric-powered mowers and other electric tools should not be used in the rain, on wet grass or in wet conditions. Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers before each use for frayed power cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housings. If any part is damaged, stop using it immediately. Repair it or replace it. Always use an extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of your tools. Remember to unplug all portable power tools when not in use. When using ladders, watch out for overhead wires and power lines.
During an electrical storm, do not use appliances (i.e., hairdryers, toasters and radios) or telephones (except in an emergency); do not take a bath or shower; keep batteries on hand for flashlights and radios in case of a power outage; and use surge protectors on electronic devices, appliances, phones, fax machines and modems.
When using ladders, avoid contact with overhead wires and power lines. Stay at least 10 feet from all lines.
Unless you are qualified and experienced in electrical work, consider hiring a licensed electrician for electrical repairs, maintenance and installations. If you elect to perform such work, make sure you follow these safety basics:
Never work on or around “hot” lines. Always de-energize lines and equipment by disconnecting from the power source at the circuit breakers or fuses. Don't forget to test every conductor before you make contact with it.
Never use the ground wire as the neutral or circuit-carrying conductor. The ground wire is not designed to carry current continuously, but briefly under an abnormal condition. The neutral wire is designed as a current carrier and can carry as much current as the hot wire. Use a strip gauge on devices to strip the proper length of insulation from wires. Stripping too little risks the screw tightening on plastic insulation; stripping too much leaves bare wires that can cause a dangerous contact. When using wire connectors, be sure the insulation on the wires is completely covered by the wire connector.
Emergency generators used by residential customers for supplying emergency power to their homes must be equipped with a “break before make” transfer switch to prevent the inadvertent energization of a downed power line by “back feeding” through the home generator into the distribution system power lines. This could result in a dangerous situation for electric utility crews working on the lines to restore the system. If you have, or are thinking of purchasing, a home generator, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) about the proper installation.
Digging near Buried Power Lines
Always contact the utility locating service, such as JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators – 1-800-892-0123), when planning to dig on your property. JULIE will then send your request to it’s members who have facilities in the area of excavation and the members will arrange for the locating of buried facilities. JULIE members only mark the facilities they own and this is generally done by inserting specially colored “flags” in the ground or spray painting a stripe on the ground to represent the buried facility. Keep in mind you have an obligation to dig in a reasonable and prudent manner. This includes hand exposing if digging within 18 inches either side of a marked underground facility. You should call JULIE 48 hours prior to digging and JULIE in turn will notify the owners of underground facilities who are JULIE members of the planned digging activity.