In recognition of National Electrical Safety Month this May, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) offers tips to stay safe when working around electricity, indoors and outdoors.
Electricity plays a vital part in everyday life. Using electricity, you can turn on lights, prepare meals and complete home improvement projects. However, electricity is a very powerful force, and if proper safety measures are not taken, can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.
You can prevent accidents by practicing safety around electric appliances, tools and power lines.
- Check to make sure all electric cords are free of fraying or cracking. Replace any cords that may be damaged.
- When unplugging appliances, always pull from the plug, not the cord.
- Avoid using extension cords, especially for a long period of time. Do not string extension cords together, and make sure the appliances do not exceed the amperage capability of the extension cord.
- Unplug appliances when they are not in use.
- Keep all electric appliances away from sinks, baths and other water sources. If an appliance falls into water, never reach in to get it.
- Never use a metal object to dislodge something from an electrical appliance.
- Make sure all electric plugs fit securely into the outlet. Never try to force a plug into an outlet, or use another object to make the plug fit.
- Avoid overloading an outlet with too many appliances.
- Thunderstorms or other severe weather can often cause downed power lines. Always treat a downed power line as if it were live, and do not touch it or any objects around it. If you see a downed power line, immediately contact local emergency responders and the local electric utility.
- Keep all ladders, scaffolding and tools at least 10 feet away from any overhead power lines. For high-voltage lines, allow even more clearance. Remember that overhead power lines may not be insulated like normal electric cords, so you should never touch an overhead line.
- Use clean, dry wood or fiberglass ladders around electric lines instead of metal.
- When installing a satellite dish on a roof, allow a distance of at least 1.5 times the length of the dish away from any power line. If the dish falls during installation, do not attempt to catch it.
- Before beginning a project that requires digging, call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) at 8-1-1 to have underground electric and utility wires marked. Call at least 48 hours before digging.
- Select low-growing plants and shrubs that will not grow high enough to touch overhead power lines. If you are landscaping near an electric transformer, plant at least 10 feet away from it.
- Do not attempt to trim trees or shrubs that are growing near power lines. Call the local electric utility if there are trees growing too close to a power line.
- Do not use electric powered lawn tools in wet conditions.
- Always wear rubber-soled shoes or boots when using electric lawn tools. Never operate an electric tool barefoot.
- Never allow children to climb trees that are touching electric lines.
- Never allow children to fly kites, balloons or other toys near power lines. If a flying toy becomes tangled in a power line, do not attempt to retrieve it. Instead, call the local electric utility for assistance.
- If someone receives an electric shock, do not touch the victim because you could receive a shock. Immediately turn off the power source and call for medical assistance.
- If an electrical appliance catches on fire, do not try to put the fire out with water. Unplug the appliance, turn off the fuse or circuit, and use a fire extinguisher approved for use on electrical fires.
- If you are in a car and come in contact with a downed power line, stay in the car and call for help. If you need to get out of the car, jump away from the car and do not touch both the car and the ground at the same time. Immediately call for help, and do not provide physical assistance to anyone who may still be in the car.
By keeping these safety tips in mind, you can prevent electrical accidents from happening and be prepared to respond if an accident occurs.