Electrical Safety

SAFETY ALWAYS!

Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. is dedicated to promoting safety to our employees, our members, and the communities we serve and work in. Electricity poses a great danger, so here are some tips and guidelines on playing it safe around electricity.

Safety in your home:

Electrical fires can damage your home and possibly cause harm to your family. It is vitally important to take steps to prevent fires as well as to know what to do if a fire does occur.

To lower your risk of an electrical fire in your home:

  • Make sure all of your electrical appliances and equipment are in good working order. Never use a damaged or frayed electrical cord.
  • If you are experiencing a frequent amount of circuit breaker trips or blown fuses, this is probably a sign that something is wrong and possibly needs to be repaired or upgraded. Never install a larger size breaker or fuse to eliminate a problem with multiple breaker trips. This only masks the problem and increases the chance of an electrical fire.

If an electrical fire happens:

  • Unplug or disconnect any appliance, tool, or equipment that is on fire. If this is not possible, then shut off the power at the main breaker panel or fuse box.
  • Never pour water on live wires or appliances.
  • Use a fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires or toss baking soda on the fire.

IF YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE FIRE, GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE IMMEDIATELY AND CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT FROM YOUR NEIGHBOR’S PHONE OR FROM A CELL PHONE.

Extension cord safety:

Extension cords are handy tools. However, they must be used properly at all times and you should follow the manufacturer’s user guidelines.

  • Use extension cords on a temporary basis only.
  • Make sure the cord can be grounded and has a amp/voltage rating for the task at hand.
  • It is a good idea to use a (UL) Underwriters Laboratory's approved cord.
  • Never use a two-pronged cord with a three-pronged grounding plug on the item your are plugging into the cord.
  • If you are using a cord outdoors, use an approved outdoor cord.
  • Use a long cord instead of several short cords plugged together. Typically, the thicker the cord the better.
  • Store your extension cord in a cool, dry place and don’t coil it up too tight.
  • Never nail or staple a cord in place and don’t run it underneath a rug or anything else.
  • Inspect your cord for damage regularly before each use. Never patch a cord with tape. Replace any damaged or frayed cords a.s.a.p.

Holiday lighting:

The holiday seasons are always great for lights and decorations. Just be sure they are as safe as they are beautiful:

  • Keep electrical lights and fixtures out of the reach of young children and pets.
  • If a string of lights is hot to the touch, stop using it.
  • Make sure your artificial Christmas tree is certified fire resistant.
  • Keep decorative paper and tinsel away from hot lights.
  • When decorating outdoors, keep ladders and decorations away from overhead power lines.
  • Inspect your cords and lights and replace any that you find to have cracked or loose sockets, exposed wires, frayed wires, broken or scorched insulation, and even a tiny crack in a cord can be a potential fire hazard.

CHILDPROOFING YOUR HOME

Children can sometimes be curious, which can lead them into trouble when it comes to electricity:

  • Use short cords around children. A cord as short as 12 inches could be a choke hazard to a child.
  • Make sure you have taught your child the dangers of electricity and power lines. Instruct them to stay away from downed power lines and to tell a grown-up about the downed line immediately.
  • Install outlet covers so your child can’t poke a finger or object into an outlet.
  • Unplug and put away fans, toasters, hair dryers, space heaters, and other small appliances that children may be tempted to play with.

At Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. we want you and your family to play it safe our electrical dangers. It could be the difference between life and death.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Never use electrical tools in rain or on wet surfaces.
  • Remember that power lines run underground as well as overhead. Call before you dig when landscaping your front or back yard.
  • If your pet gets stranded on a power pole, don’t attempt to climb the pole and rescue the pet, call the Cooperative and we will send someone to rescue your pet.
  • Make sure your outdoor receptacles have waterproof covers.
  • Use GFCI’s (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) when working outdoors.
  • Stay clear of overhead power lines when moving pipes, augers, grain elevators, tall machinery, antennas, etc.
  • Make sure your antenna has lightning protection.
  • Pay attention to substation fencing and danger signs.
  • Remember to look up before planting new trees or trimming trees.
  • Use wood or fiberglass ladders if you must work near electric wires. Never use an aluminum or metal ladder near electric lines.
  • Keep ladders and scaffolds as far away from power lines as possible.

Planting and Trimming Trees

Never plant trees, shrubs, or bushes on top of, under, or near power lines.

Little trees grow into big trees that can touch power lines. Trees conduct electricity easily which put tree-climbing and kite-flying children at risk.

Small variety trees need to be planted at least 20 feet from power lines.
Medium variety trees need to be planted at least 35 feet away from power lines.
Large variety trees need to be planted at least 45 feet away from power lines.

Please call us before you try to cut or trim trees near power lines. This is very risky. Overhead power lines carry from 25,000 to 345,000 volts. Also, please don’t attempt to remove a branch that is mingled with a power line. This can bring down the line as well as the branch.

And always call us before you dig a hole to plant a tree or shrub. We will mark our lines before you dig.

DOWNED POWER LINES or WIRES

If you find a fallen wire or conductor, NEVER TOUCH IT. Report it to Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc. or to the police.

If you are in a car that is touching fallen power lines, don’t touch the lines or the car. Stay in the car and try to drive away if it appears safe to do so. If you can’t drive away, wait for help to arrive. DON”T GET OUT OF THE CAR! Warn other people to stay away. If you have to get out of the car, jump clear without touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time, and then hop away with both feet together.

UNDERGROUND POWER LINES & CABLES

If you are planning any projects that require digging like installing fence posts or planting trees, stop and think twice about what may be hidden underground that you cannot see. Most of the new power lines today are installed underground. Since they are out of sight, it is easy to forget that they are there. And they could be right below where you are planning to dig. A lot of the new underground power lines and cables are installed near property lines and property corners, so pay special attention to these areas.

Whether you have underground service to your home or not, if is a good idea to call us before you do any digging in your yard. We will be happy to show you how you can get all the underground lines on your property marked and flagged.

IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE AND DIG INTO OR UNCOVER AN UNDERGROUND ELECTRIC LINE, DO NOT COVER IT BACK UP! It is far easier and less expensive to repair and inspect at this time than to search for and correct the problem later.

UTILITY POLES

Utility or power poles are used to safely support electric power lines and conductors (wires) that provide vital service to our members and communities. They are the backbone of our distribution system.

Please do not place yard sale or garage sale signs, posters, advertisements, or any other items on utility poles. They are safety hazards for our utility linemen. Line workers have to work around these attachments when climbing poles. Nails and staples pose a greater hazard for linemen to get hurt or to fall.

Also, privately owned sports equipment like basketball goals, private lighting, birdhouses and feeders, or any other personal device should not be installed on any utility pole.

Finally, please refrain from landscaping around the bottom poles with flower boxes, etc. If a line worker should fall on these, he could be injured more seriously.

SUBSTATIONS

An electrical substation has a fence around it for a reason. And the signs attached to the fence say “DANGER – KEEP AWAY” or “WARNING – HIGH VOLTAGE” because they mean it. Sorry this does not sound too friendly, but the fence and signs are there to protect you.

An electrical substation has voltages as high as 345,000 volts running through it. This can kill someone in an instant. Only authorized and trained workers are allowed to work in or near high voltage substations. The whole substation is a danger zone, so please avoid getting near them at all times.