Safety Tips

  • Splashing into Summer Safety

    During the summer when you may be enjoying outdoor activities such as swimming, it is important to keep in mind that dangers are present whenever water can potentially come in contact with electricity. Review the following tips to avoid hazards and potentially serious injuries:

    • Keep cords and electrical devices away from pools.
    • Never handle electrical items when you are wet.
    • Don’t allow power cord connections to become wet.
    • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.
    • Use outlet covers on outdoor receptacles near swimming pools.
    • Electrical devices such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches can malfunction when water and residue get inside. Replace those that have been submerged.
    • Indoor outlets or electrical cords that have become immersed due to flooding may energize water, a potential deadly condition.
    • If a switch or an appliance has become wet or submerged, have an electrician check the house wiring and the appliance to make sure it is safe to use before flipping a switch or plugging in an appliance.
    • When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner, or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electric shock.
    • Boating is another seasonal activity. Sailboats often have masts of 30 feet or more, which are dangerous when they come into contact with overhead power lines. Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines to help prevent lethal electrical hazards.

    Electrical safety awareness near water can help keep summer outdoor activities from becoming disasters for everyone.

  • Keeping generator safety top of mind

    Preparation is key when it comes to portable generators. Before the storms arrive, familiarize yourself with the following safety tips to make sure you can properly operate and maintain your generator before it’s called into action.

    Connections

    Always plug appliances directly into generators. Connecting the generator to a home’s circuits or wiring must be done by a qualified, licensed electrician who will install a transfer switch to prevent backfeeding.

    Wiring

    Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring unless the home has been wired for generator use. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with the generator. Have a licensed electrician install the equipment to safely connect emergency generators.

    Maintenance

    Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down. Keep the generator dry on a flat, dry surface under an open structure, and never fuel a generator while it is operating.

    Cords

    Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords free of cuts or tears, and be sure that the plug has three prongs. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage.

    Use sparingly

    Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances. Look at the labels on lighting, appliances and equipment to determine the amount of power needed to operate the equipment.

  • Know What’s Below: Call Before You Dig
    Spring and summer bring with them many outdoor projects. If your planned projects include digging, like planting a tree, adding a deck or
    bringing i811 Call Before You Dign a backhoe for trench work, always plan ahead so you’ll have a few extra days so the job can be done safely. Underground utilities, such as buried gas, water and electric lines, can be a shovel thrust away from turning a spring project into a disaster.

    To find out whether utility lines are located on your property, simply dial 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging. Your call will be routed to a local “one call” center. Tell the operator the address of where you’re planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing, and the affected local utilities will be notified.

    In a few days, a locator will arrive to designate the approximate position of any underground lines, pipes and cables with flags or marking paint so you’ll know the location of the infrastructure. Then the safe digging can begin.

    Although many homeowners tackling do-it-yourself digging projects are aware of “Call Before You Dig” services, the majority don’t take advantage of the service. A national survey showed that only 33 percent of homeowners called to have their utility lines marked before starting their digging projects, according to the Common Ground Alliance, a federally mandated group of underground utility and damage prevention industry professionals.

    And while light gardening typically doesn’t call for deep digging, other seemingly simple tasks like planting shrubs or installing a new mailbox post can damage utility lines. A severed line can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm diggers and potentially result in fines and repair costs.

    Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. There’s no need: the 811 service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted and can help you avoid serious injury. For more information about local services, visit www.call811.com.

     

     

  • Stay safe when using space heaters
    electric heater

     

    With the cooler weather slipping in, we’re all looking for a way to keep warm, making space heaters popular this time of year. Unfortunately, space heaters are a common cause of house fires, resulting in more than 25,000 residential fires each year, according to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Before you get yours plugged-in, take time to review these important safety tips.

    Always read and follow the instructions for its operation and maintenance. The heater should be placed on a level, hard, nonflammable surface at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture or other flammable items and in an area out of reach of children and pets or where people might trip over or bump into it.

    Be sure to check the cords of older space heaters, and do not use them if they are cracked or frayed. Remember to keep electric cords out of high-traffic areas, including doorways and walkways, where they can be a tripping hazard. Also, to prevent electrical shocks and electrocutions, always keep heaters away from areas with water, such as bathrooms and kitchens, and never touch a heater if you are wet.

    When buying a space heater, only consider purchasing those that are Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approved. Choose a unit that is the correct wattage for the area you want to heat with a 10-to-1 ratio of wattage to square feet. Look for a heater that has a timer or is controlled thermostatically to avoid over heating a room, as well as both a tip-over switch, which shuts off the heater if it is knocked over, and an automatic shutoff, which turns the heater off if it gets too hot.

    Always remember to turn the heater off when you are not in the room, sleeping or leaving your home. Keep your family safe by following the above precautions.

     

  • Holiday cooking tips: Making sure safety is on this year’s holiday menu
    The holiday season is in full swing, which means many of us will find ourselves in the kitchen prepping for upcoming celebrations. In the rush of gearing up for holiday get-togethers, cooking safety can sometimes be put on the backburner, no pun intended.

    Inattention and electrical appliances don’t mix well, which is why it’s important to keep your focus on the delicious dishes you are preparing. Starting a dish on the stovetop or in the toaster oven then moving on to other tasks might seem like a good way to gain efficiencies, but that distraction could cause a big problem. Reports from the National Fire Prevention Association state that unattended equipment is cited as the leading cause for 32 percent of home cooking fires.
    When frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food, always remain in the kitchen, and keep anything flammable – oven mitts, food wrappers, towels or wooden utensils – away from the stovetop or cooking surface.

    Another aspect of cooking safety that’s often overlooked is the condition of the appliances being used. Check that yours are still in good working condition before putting them to work, and never use an appliance that’s in obvious disrepair or one that’s already had an over-extended cooking career.

    Ask yourself just how many Christmases has that crockpot seen? The lifespan of small appliances greatly depends on how often they are used, how well they are maintained and how well their quality holds up. The average life expectancy of most small kitchen appliances ranges from five to 10 years. For example, mid- to high-end toasters can last six to eight years, and a toaster oven works an average of five years. If you’ve celebrated your 15th wedding anniversary and you’re still regularly using the crockpot or toaster you received as a wedding present, it might be time to add a new one to your Christmas list.

    To stay safe while cooking, keep these additional tips in mind when you begin your food prep:

    • Make sure your appliances are plugged into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet. When working properly, the GFCI senses any power flow imbalances and in turn trips the circuit.
    • Make sure all electric cords are in good working condition: do not use appliances with cords or plugs that are frayed, cracked, taped, have exposed wires or are otherwise questionable.
    • If you use extension cords, make sure they are in good condition and that the correct type of cord is used for the job (for example, don’t use an everyday, thin extension cord for a high-powered appliance). Use them as a temporary solution, not a permanent one.
    • Although often a task that gets skipped, read the appliance’s operating instructions prior to use.

    When not in use, always unplug small appliances to prevent unnecessary energy consumption, especially if the appliance has LED displays or other standby energy-consuming features.

  • Electrical safety tips for hunters
    When preparing for hunting season, hunters understandably have their sights set on wild game, but Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) also urges hunters to be aware of and take precautions around potential electrical hazards.

    In a state dominated by hardwood hollows and pine thickets, wildlife can often be easily seen along rights of way. For landowners and their guests, this wildlife activity and low cover provide unique and fruitful hunting experiences that can be enjoyed by both seasoned and first-time hunters. But like any other hunting scenario, caution must be taken in these areas, and additional precautions are necessary when hunting near power lines. When engaging in dove hunting, avoid shooting any birds that land on power lines.

    In many cases, landowners should place hunting structures along the edge of rights of way and maintain at least 15 feet from existing structures on the cooperative’s lines. On transmission rights of ways (tall high voltage lines) more distance is required. Contacting the owner of the lines can determine safe placement of structures.

    To ensure that rights of way remain safe for property owners and to provide access for proper operation and maintenance of lines, the following structures, even if temporary, are prohibited and are subject to immediate removal or relocation:

    • Any structure attached to a transmission tower or power pole.
    • A structure blocking access or located too close to facilities.
    • Structures underneath high-voltage lines.

    Take note of the location of power lines and other electrical equipment before you begin a hunt. Be especially careful and observant in wooded areas where power lines are easy to overlook.

     

  • Generator Safety 101
    After Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana this year, over half the deaths attributed from the storm were from improper generator use. People are often unaware of the hidden dangers of portable generators. Portable generators are intended to offer convenience during outages, but should they be installed incorrectly, they can be fatal to you, the public and linemen restoring your electricity.

    One significant way that generators pose a risk is through “backfeeding.” Backfeeding occurs when a generator is plugged directly into a home’s electrical panel or through a wall outlet instead of a regulated transfer switch. This practice is illegal in multiple states because it allows power to bypass the home’s built-in electrical safety features and “back-feed” into utility lines. Linemen working to restore power can be electrocuted when this happens. In this type of situation, the homeowner could be held responsible for injury and be criminally prosecuted.

    To prevent backfeeding from occurring, generators must be installed correctly in one of two ways. The first is with a power transfer switch, which separates power from the utility and the whole home generator and only allows one source of power to the home. The transfer switch should always be installed by a qualified electrician. The second option is to plug in home appliances, not exceeding capacity, directly into the portable generator with heavy-duty extension cords.

    Other hazards of using a portable generator include carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust and the possibility of fire, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA warns that most deaths and injuries associated with portable generators are caused by CO poisoning when generators are used indoors or in partially enclosed spaces.

    Portable generators are a viable option to keep your home or appliances functioning during an outage, just make sure that the generator is installed or used correctly to keep your family, the community and lineworkers safe.

  • Extension cord safety
    Extension cords can be a practical and cost-effective solution when your electronic device’s cord is too short to reach the outlet. But if not used correctly, they could cause an expensive and dangerous problem, like a house fire.

    When using an extension cord, it is important to choose one that is properly rated for its environment (indoor or outdoor) and the device(s) you will have plugged into it. Check the packaging on the cord for rating, size and
    wattage, and check the appliance or user manual for its power usage.

    Here are some other tips on using extension cords safely:

    Occasionally check the condition of extension cords. Look along the entire length of the cord for signs of fraying or cracking and also check for damage to the plug or sockets. Cords used outdoors should be checked more frequently because of the constant wear and tear. Replace any damaged cords.

    Be sure to provide slack to prevent tension on the cord. Tension on any part of the cord can cause damage.

    Never remove the grounding pin (or third prong) from an extension cord to make it fit into a two-prong outlet. This is a safety feature designed to protect you and your home. Instead of removing the third prong, hire a qualified electrician to install a new outlet.

    Do not overload extension cords with too many electronics or power tools as it may cause the cord to overheat and start a fire. If you’re going to use the extension cord with two or more appliances at the same time, you must add up the wattage rating for all appliances used on the cord to make sure it will not become overloaded.

    Extension cords always conduct electricity when plugged into an outlet, even if it is not being used. Therefore, always unplug the cord when you are finished with it.

    Additional tips for indoor use of extension cords:

    If any part of the extension cord becomes hot while in use, unplug it immediately and discard it.

    Keep extension cords away from children, pets and high-traffic areas.

    Do not place extension cords under carpets, rugs or furniture or cover with any other objects.

    Tips for outdoor use of extension cords:

    Do not use cords in wet conditions. Water conducts electricity and working in wet conditions increases the chance of shock or electrocution.

    When not in use, store extension cords indoors, in a dry area and steady temperature climate.

  • Five safety tips for DIY projects
    Without taking proper precautions, the enjoyment of a do-it-yourself project can quickly turn into a disaster. You may have all the latest power tools, hand tools, hardware and materials, but if you don’t put safety first, you may end up with a trip to the hospital instead of a new set of shelves, upgraded lighting in the kitchen or a trendy shiplap accent wall in the bedroom. Here are some fundamental workshop and electrical safety tips to keep things running smoothly.

    1.Wear safety gear, glasses and gloves
    The first rule of safety is to dress appropriately. Avoid loose clothing that can get caught in power tools and never wear dangling jewelry or scarves. Roll up your sleeves or choose ones that are tight against your skin. Closed-toe shoes are a must, and steel-toed boots are recommended.
    Safety glasses are necessary 100 percent of the time, and ear protection may also be applicable depending on the project. Gloves are fine for handling materials, but before you reach for a belt sander or scroll saw, take the gloves off to minimize the risk of them getting caught. You also get tactile feedback in case anything goes wrong.

    2. Observe electrical safety
    Before you start any DIY project, inspect all your power tools and their cords for loose plugs, exposed wires or worn insulation. Fires are one of the top dangers when working with electric gear, especially if you have combustible materials around, such as sawdust or paint. If you must use an extension cord, choose one long, heavy-duty (appropriately rated) cord and keep it untangled and out of the way to prevent tripping. When done working, unplug everything from the extension cord and put it away.

    3. Keep your work space clean
    Anything left on the floor is a tripping hazard, and you do not want to imagine what could happen if you trip while using a power tool. The byproducts of do-it-yourself work, such as sawdust, cast-off nails and screws and rags or brushes with potentially combustible or hazardous fluids on them, increase the risk of fires and projectiles.

    4. Keep tools in good condition
    Besides inspecting the cords and plugs for electrical safety, everything works better if you have clean, sharp and well-lubricated tools. A dull saw blade brings a much higher chance of injury than a sharp one as it is less likely to cut smoothly through the wood or other material and more likely to kick back and cut you. Dull saws, routers or drill bits also run the risk of breaking during use. Use appropriate lubrication, such as WD-40 or others specifically created for power tools.

    5. Know your limits
    If you have a lot of experience as a do-it-yourselfer, there are projects you can tackle from memory. However, for maximum safety, approach anything new as if you are a beginner. Read instructions, look up reputable guide videos to refresh your skills or learn something new, and, most importantly, recognize when you are in over your head and leave those non-DIY projects to the professionals.

  • Fake chargers are dangerous
    Looking for a way to save money when purchasing electronics? Well, if you bought a mobile phone charger from a vendor other than a trusted third party dealer, the official Apple website or an android smartphone company, then you might have a counterfeit power adapter that does not meet minimum safety standards. Legitimate chargers cost $20 to $25 apiece while fakes can cost less than $5.

    Counterfeit adapters are not designed or manufactured to meet industry safety standards, and lack the safety features necessary to protect users from shock and fire hazards. Some knockoff chargers don’t have proper insulation, potentially exposing users to overheating, fire or electric shock. Within the past few years, several incidents related to shock or electrocution (involving cell phones) have been reported.

    Common problems with fakes include counterfeit plugs, non-sleeved plugs where the metal pins are exposed, live parts, two pin plugs attached and only basic insulation. While some counterfeit iPhone adapters can closely resemble the genuine product, there are often indicators that consumers can use to spot a fake, such as:

    • A genuine iPhone charger comprises two products – a power adapter for the wall, plus a USB cable to connect it to your phone. Android chargers are all different but should be marked with the logo of the phone company.
    • The absence of a certification mark, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) mark. This should sit between the two bottom pins on the underside of the charger. This mark can easily be forged, but there is still a difference: the text on imitations are dark gray as opposed to the light gray on real iPhone chargers.
    • Check for the CE safety marking and look for the manufacturer’s brand name or logo, model and batch number.
    • Legitimate chargers usually weigh more than their fake counterparts due to the higher number of components.
    • USB socket may be upside down.
    • The authentic iPhone charger comes with various essential instructions. These include information on electrical safety and directions on how to safely use them. If any of these are missing, then you may be dealing with a fake.
    • The pins on a real charger will have a matte finish, with a consistent color and a uniform square appearance. A gloss or shiny finish, and/or irregularities in the size or shape are possible signs of a counterfeit product.

    The best way to ensure you get the real deal is to buy from a reputable dealer – you may end up paying a little bit more, but you will have a peace of mind knowing it will be safe.

  • Holiday lighting safety tips
    We all want our homes to be merry and bright with the holidays right around the corner, but are you doing everything you can to be safe when putting up your lights? When decorating your home for the holiday season, take a look at the following safety tips:

    1. Consider purchasing LED holiday lights; they are cool to the touch and more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs.
    2. Test holiday lights by connecting each strand before hanging them.
    3. Make sure there are no broken bulbs or damaged or grayed cords. Discard any defective strands.
    4. Use holiday lights that include the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) label.
    5. Avoid resting bulbs on tree needles and branches. Try using a clip to keep the bulbs upright.
    6. Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
    7. Turn off all indoor and outdoor holiday lighting before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Make sure safety is on the menu this year
    The holiday season is in full swing, which means many of us will find ourselves in the kitchen prepping for upcoming celebrations. In the associated rush of gearing up for holiday get-togethers, cooking safety can sometimes be put on the backburner, no pun intended.

    Inattention and electrical appliances don’t mix well, which is why it’s important to keep your focus on the delicious dishes you are preparing. While it might seem like a good way to kill two birds with one stone by starting a dish on the stovetop or in the toaster oven then moving on to other tasks, reports from the National Fire Prevention Association state that unattended equipment is cited as the leading cause for 32 percent of home cooking fires.

    When frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food, always remain in the kitchen, and keep anything flammable – oven mitts, food wrappers, towels or wooden utensils – away from the stovetop or cooking surface. Another aspect of cooking safety that’s often overlooked is the condition of the appliances being used. Check that they are still in good working condition, and never use an appliance that’s in obvious disrepair or one that’s already had an over-extended cooking career.

    Ask yourself just how many Christmases has that crockpot seen? The lifespan of small appliances greatly depends on how often they are used, how well they are maintained and how well their quality holds up. Generally speaking, the average life expectancy of most small kitchen appliances ranges from five to 10 years. For example, mid- to high-end toasters can last six to eight years, and a toaster oven works an average of five years. If you’ve celebrated your 15th wedding anniversary and you’re still regularly using the crockpot or toaster you received as a wedding present, it might be time to add a new one to your Christmas list.

    To stay safe while cooking, keep the following additional tips in mind when you begin your food prep:

    • Make sure your appliances are plugged into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet. When working properly, the GFCI senses any power flow imbalances and in turn trips the circuit.
    • Make sure all electric cords are in good working condition: do not use appliances with cords or plugs that are frayed, cracked, taped, wire-exposed or otherwise questionable.
    • If you use extension cords, make sure they are in good condition and that the correct type of cord is used for the job (for example, don’t use an everyday, thin extension cord for a high-powered appliance). Use them as a temporary solution, not a permanent one.
    • Although often a task that gets skipped, read the appliance’s operating instructions prior to use.

    When not in use, always unplug small appliances to prevent any unnecessary energy consumption, especially if the appliance has LED displays or any other standby features that consume energy.