Below are some tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation you can use in your home:
- Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.
- Make sure cords are in good condition – not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboard or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
- Check to see that extension cords are not overloaded. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring. Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.
- Make sure your plugs fit your outlets. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong 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. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Test GFCIs according to the manufacturer’s instructions monthly and after major electrical storms to make sure they are working properly.
- Check the wattage of all light bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended; if you don’t know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer of the fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.
- Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the same size fuse.
- Don’t leave plugged-in appliances where they might fall in contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, NEVER reach in to pull it out—even if it’s turned off. First turn off the power source at the panel board and then unplug the appliance. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, don’t use it until it has been checked by a qualified repair person.
- 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.
- Check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly. Look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
- Electric-powered mowers and other 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 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.
- 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.
- Halogen floor lamps operate at much higher temperatures than a standard incandescent light bulb. Never place a halogen floor lamp where it could come in contact with draperies, clothing or other combustible materials. Be sure to turn the lamp off whenever you leave the room for an extended period of time and never use torchiere lamps in children’s bedrooms or playrooms. Consider using cooler fluorescent floor lamps.
What to do if you see downed power lines
Downed Power Lines pose an extreme risk of electrical shock injury and electrocution.
- Downed power lines can be deadly. Always assume the line is live and avoid going near it or making contact with it
- Downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet away
- If you see a downed line, immediately notify local authorities by calling 9-1-1.
- Never drive over downed lines or through water that is in contact with the downed line
- Never try to move a downed line. Using items that are not conductive may not prevent injury or death
- When moving away from a downed line, shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times
- Never touch someone who has come in contact with a power line because they are energized and pose a danger to anyone who comes in contact with them
What to do if downed power lines make contact with your vehicle
If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed line while you are inside
- Stay in the car
- Do not touch any part of the vehicle’s frame or any metal in the vehicle
- Use a cell phone or honk your horn to summon help
- Allow only rescue personnel to approach the car
If a vehicle contacts a power line or utility pole stay away and call 911
- Consider all lines to be live and dangerous
- Stay in place or inside your vehicle unless you see fire or smoke
- Warn others to stay at least 35 feet away
- Tell others not to approach vehicle, downed lines, or anything that may be in contact with downed lines
- Call 911
In the Event of Fire or Smoke
If your vehicle is in contact with a downed line and you must exit due to fire or another imminent threat:
- Do not touch your vehicle and the ground at the same time with any part of your body
- Open the door to your vehicle without touching the metal door frame
- Jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and so both feet land at the same time
- Shuffle away and avoid lifting your feet, ensure both feet are always touching the ground