Safe Electricity offers summer safety tips
By Gary Beaumont, University of Illinois College of ACES
UrbanaWhether youre starting a home improvement project, planning to trim a tree, adding to your garden or taking a refreshing swim, Safe Electricity wants you to consider the electrical equipment around you, and potential hazards to avoid during summer months. Of particular concern are power lines overhead and the added dangers when water and storm activity are present.
Keep your summer season enjoyable and safe, said Molly Hall, director of Safe Electricity. Know what to do when thunderstorms and lightning threaten. Be aware of overhead power lines when doing work outside your home. Make sure children know and follow basic safety rules.
Safety tips to keep in mind this summer:
Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders, pool skimmers and pruning poles, or when installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes or doing roof repair work.
Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from lines. Never trim trees near power linesleave that to the professionals.
If thunderstorms and lightning are approaching, move indoors and stay away from electric appliances and objects that could conduct electricity. Use only cordless or cell phones to make calls. If youre in an open area outside, tingling skin or crackling sounds could signal that lightning is about to strike. Drop down and make yourself as small as possiblefeet together and hands on kneeswith minimal contact with the ground.
Electricity and water are a dangerous mix. Keep electrical appliances and tools at least 10 feet away from pools and wet surfaces. Never use electric yard tools if its raining or the ground is wet.
Never step into a flooded areaespecially basementsif water is in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords. Dont use any electrical appliances or touch circuit breakers or fuses when youre wet or standing in water.
Be sure outdoor outlets and outlets near wet areas of the kitchen, bath and laundry room have ground fault circuit interrupters to prevent serious shock injuries.
If your projects include digging, like building a deck or planting a tree, call your utility locating service before you begin. For most of Illinois, its JULIE (1-800-892-0123) and in Chicago, call Digger (1-312-744-7000). Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. Call at least two business days ahead of your dig date. This service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted, and can help you avoid serious injury.
Help keep utility workers safe. Never post signs or tie banners around utility poles. Posting signs, hanging banners or tying ribbons and balloons onto utility poles puts utility workers at risk and often is a violation of local ordinances forbidding placement of anything on poles.
In addition, Safe Electricity urges everyone to make sure children understand and follow basic safety rules:
Never climb trees near power lines. Even if the power lines arent touching the tree, they could touch when more weight is added to the branch.
Fly kites and model airplanes in large open areas like a park or a field, safely away from trees and overhead power lines. If a kite gets stuck in a tree thats near power lines, dont climb up to get it. Contact your electric utility for assistance.
Never climb a utility pole. Dont play on or around pad-mounted electrical equipment.
Never go into an electric substation for any reasoneven on a dare. Electric substations contain high-voltage equipment, which can kill you. Never rescue a pet that goes inside. Call your electric utility instead.
Storms can also leave electric hazards behind, Hall added. Its a good idea to keep utility emergency numbers close at hand.
If you see a downed power line, stay far away from it and call your electric utility. Warn others to stay clear of the wires. Assume that all downed power lines are energized. For more safety tips, visit www.SafeElectricity.org.
Safe Electricity is a statewide electrical safety public awareness program created by a coalition of more than three dozen organizations, including the University of Illinois, electric companies and electric cooperatives from across the state. All are members of the Illinois Electric Council, a not-for profit organization dedicated to promoting electric safety and efficiency.