From the 25,000 volts of electricity in some of the overhead power lines above us, to the 120 volts in the outlets in many homes, electricity is an integral, yet easily overlooked, part of our everyday lives. May is National Electrical Safety Month, which is an opportune time to brush up on tips for using electricity safely.
In honor of National Electrical Safety Month, Tillamook PUD offers 10 tips on how to safely avoid common mistakes made with electricity.
1. Just because a power line is down does not mean it is dead. Whether caused by a storm or car accident, a fallen power line is very dangerous. Stay far away, instruct others to stay away and call Tillamook PUD immediately.
2. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet. After a power outage, many use generators as a quick solution to get the lights back on, but plugging a generator into an outlet creates dangerous backfeed. Backfeed sends electricity back through the power lines and can injure or kill the lineman trying to turn the power back on.
3. Don’t step into a flooded basement if there is a chance that flood waters may be in contact with outlets or electrical cords. The waters of a flooded basement may be energized with electricity.
4. Water and electrical equipment don’t mix. Replace any appliance damaged by water because it is unsafe to use, and never use electrical equipment in wet conditions – if it is raining or the ground is wet.
5. All outlets near areas with water should have GFCI protection. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) monitor the flow of electricity in a circuit. If there is an irregularity of electrical flow, the power is cut off, preventing an electric shock.
6. Extension cords should never be used permanently. Extension cords are created for temporary use only. When using them for a permanent solution, they can overheat and cause fires.
7. Never remove a plug’s grounding pin. The third prong on a plug is a safety feature. If the plug doesn’t fit, the outlet needs replaced.
8. Take care of electrical cords. Never tack or nail an electrical cord to any surface or run cords across traffic paths or under rugs where they can be trampled, and check cords occasionally for damage. Replace when necessary.
9. Avoid overloading outlets. Plugging in too many appliances to an outlet can strain your electrical system.
10. Always call 811 before any digging project. You don’t know the precise location of utilities that are buried beneath the ground, so always have your utilities marked so you know where it is safe to dig.