Stoves, hairdryers, computers, toasters, televisions, and all manner of electrical appliances, fill our homes. No matter the appliance, the essential safety rules include:
- Check electrical cords for worn spots or frayed wires. Don't mend it, replace it! Homemade repairs are a common source of fires.
- Use extension cords sparingly and only on a temporary basis. Too many appliances plugged into one cord causes overheating. Overheated wires start one of every six home fires.
- Don't place power cords under carpets, rugs, or furniture, and never staple or nail cords to walls, baseboards, or other objects.
- Don't use multi-plug sockets. Check behind your TV. Are the VCR, CD player, cable box, stereo, and tape deck all plugged into each other? Before you add that video game ask yourself, "Am I playing with fire?"
- Keep flammable materials away from lamps and heaters. Place electric heaters away from well-traveled areas where someone might trip and fall.
- Place electrical appliances a safe distance from sinks and tubs.
- Inspect electrical outlets on a regular basis. Look for overheating, loose connections, and corrosion. Outlets that have loose-fitting plugs can lead to arcing and fire.
- Never remove the third prong from a plug to make it fit a two-prong outlet. This could lead to an electrical shock.
- Don't overload outlets with too many appliances. Unplugging appliances that are not in use cuts the risk for electric shock or fire and conserves energy.
- If an outlet or switch wall plate is hot to the touch, immediately shut off the circuit and have a professional check it.
- Replace any missing or broken wall plates.
- Install safety covers on all unused outlets so children can't play with them.
- Since halogen floor lamps operate at much higher temperatures than standard incandescent light bulbs, never place these lamps where they can come in touch with drapes, clothing, or other combustible materials. All halogen lamps should have safety cages over the bulb. They reduce the risk of fire.
The need for precautions doesn't change when you move outdoors. Whether you're lighting your patio for a party, cleaning gutters or windows, driving on a road lined with overhead power lines, or walking past a utility pole, the risk of being hurt by electricity exists. To stay safe:
- Never go near or touch a fallen power line or other damaged electrical equipment.
- If you see a downed power line or any other unsafe electrical condition, call (226-4015 / 226-4016) immediately.
- Stay away from transmission line towers, utility poles, substation fences, and any other facility marked with "Danger, High Voltage" signs.
- Ladders create special hazards when placed near electricity. If you must work near overhead wires, stay back at least 10 feet, use only a fiberglass or wooden ladder, and DO NOT let the ladder come in contact with the wires. NEVER use a metal ladder near overhead lines.
- If the ladder starts to fall into an overhead line, let it fall. If this happens, call (226-4015 / 226-4016) immediately.
- Before using any electrical product outdoors, be sure that it is intended for outdoor use.
- The only extension cords that should be used are those marked "for outdoor use."
- Never use outdoor portable electrical appliances or tools while you are wet or close to water. If an electrical product falls into water, make sure you are dry and not in contact with water or metal surfaces. Then unplug it immediately or shut off the power at the circuit breaker (main switch). Do not attempt to remove it from the water.
- Keep outdoor outlets covered and dry between uses.
- Keep balloons, especially metallic ones, away from overhead power lines.
- Fly kites in open areas away from overhead power lines.
- If you are inside a car hit by a power line, stay in the car. The rubber tires will provide the protective insulation you need. Honk your horn for help, but tell nonemergency people to stay away from the car.