This article is originally from the North Dakota Living Magazine produced by NDAREC.
April is wrapping up, which means May is just around the corner. And with May being National Electrical Safety Month, Cass County Electric Cooperative wants you to be aware of potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety. This year’s campaign, “Back to the Basics,” challenges consumers to make home electrical safety assessments a priority.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average home today has a minimum of three televisions, two DVD players, at least one digital camera, one desktop computer, and two cell phones.
Many homes and their electrical systems were built before most modern-day home electronics and appliances were even invented. Today’s increased demand for energy can overburden an older home’s electrical system.
CCEC offers the following tips to help identify and eliminate electrical hazards to protect yourself, your family and your home:
- Make sure entertainment centers and computer equipment have plenty of space around them for ventilation.
- Use extension cords as a temporary solution, and never as a permanent power supply.
- Do not place extension cords in high-traffic areas, under carpets or across walkways, where they pose a potential tripping hazard.
- Use a surge protector to protect your computer and other electronic equipment from damage caused by voltage changes.
- Heavy reliance on power strips is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Have additional outlets installed by a qualified, licensed electrician.
- Keep liquids, including drinks, away from electrical items such as televisions and computers.
Here, we offer other tips:
BASICS FOR THE KIDS
As the weather warms, kids will soon head outside to play. Before they do, teach them a few basic rules about outdoor power lines and equipment:
- Never fly a kite near a power line. Kites could easily become tangled in power lines and become energized.
- Don’t climb trees that are near power lines and poles. Those branches could be hiding some hazards.
- Stay far away from power lines lying on the ground. You can’t tell if electricity is still flowing through them. If there’s water nearby, don’t go in it. Water is the best conductor of electricity.
- Obey signs that say “danger” and “keep out” around large electrical equipment, like substations. These signs aren’t warnings; they’re commands to keep you safe.
- Never climb a power pole.
OUTDOOR BASICS FOR ADULTS
- If power lines run through your trees, ask CCEC to trim the branches.
- If they’re not already, consider upgrading your outdoor receptacles – or any outlets that could come in contact with water – to ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). GFCIs immediately interrupt power flow when a plugged-in device comes in contact with water. Regardless, keep your outlets and cords dry and covered outside.
- Use only weather-resistant, heavy-duty extension cords marked for outdoor use.
- Carefully check the location of all overhead wires before using a ladder. All ladders, even those made of wood, that contact a power line can shock or electrocute people coming in contact with them.
- Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use.
- Inspect power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing. Repair or replace damaged items.
- Water does not mix with electricity. Avoid damp conditions – including wet grass – when using electricity.
Remember that power lines and other utilities run underground, too. Call 811 to have utility lines marked before you start digging. Go online at http://www.ndonecall.com or call 800-795-0555 or 811. It’s free, it’s simple and it’s the law.
How will you practice electrical safety this month?