Electricity is the most widely used energy source in the world and, unfortunately, is often taken for granted. Electricity is used everyday for a variety of tasks. No wonder it is such an inconvenience when the power goes out! Electricity is so common that we often forget the importance of proper usage and safety practices. We should constantly remind ourselves and our children of the power of electricity. Following are some interesting facts and good advice:
Most accidents involving electricity can be traced to three causes:
1. Lack of knowledge about using electrical equipment
2. Careless use of equipment
3. Faulty electrical equipment or cords
The electricity needed to light a 7.5 watt Christmas tree bulb is enough to seriously or fatally injure an adult. Don’t be fooled by low voltage electricity. A person may survive a high-voltage shock yet be killed by a low-voltage shock.
- Never go near, touch or try to move a downed power line or other damaged electrical equipment. Call Hartselle Utilities immediately at (256) 773-3340, then make sure no one else goes near the power line or damaged facilities.
- Keep ladders, kites and other tall equipment out of power lines and out of trees that are near power lines. Do not try to trim a tree that is in a power line. Call Hartselle Utilities to request tree trimming.
- Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Never remove the round pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug 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. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.
- Make sure all electrical cords are in good condition – not frayed or cracked. If they are frayed or damaged in any way, do not use them. Also, take care of electrical cords so they do not become damaged. Place them where they will not be stepped on or subject to heat or water. Do not pull on cords to disconnect them (pull from the plug) and do not twist or kink cords. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall or the baseboards. Check to see that cords are not overloaded. Extensions cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring.
- Turn off lights when changing a bulb and unplug appliances to clean or service them.
- Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture. Replace bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended; if you don’t know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer. 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
- 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.
- Turn appliances off or unplug them when not in use.
- Space heaters are meant to supply supplemental heat. Keep space heaters at least 3 ft. away from any combustible material such as bedding, draperies, clothing, furniture and rugs. Do not use space heaters in rooms where children are unsupervised and remember to turn off and unplug when not in use.
- Never use an electric appliance while wet, standing in water or in the rain.
- Never use an electric appliance that may be damaged or has a damaged electric cord.
- Teach children to stay away from electrical outlets and not to play with electric appliances. If an appliance has a third prong (grounding prong) on the cord, make sure it is plugged into an outlet or extension cord that will accept the third prong. Never remove the third prong so that the appliance can be plugged into a two prong receptacle.
- 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. Always use and extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of your tools.
- During an electrical storm do not use appliances or telephone (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. Use surge protectors on electronic devices and appliances.
- Don’t leave plugged-in appliances where they might come in contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water NEVER reach in to get it – even if it’s turned off. Turn off the power source at the switchbox or breaker box and then unplug the appliance. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, don’t use it until a qualified repair person has checked it
- In case of an electrical fire, call the Fire Department, disconnect the breaker that provides electrical service to the appliance on fire, or disconnect the main breaker. If you can safely unplug an appliance that is on fire then do so. Never try to extinguish an electrical fire with water. Use baking soda or an extinguisher rated for electrical fires. It is a good idea to make sure all adults and older children in the home know where the breaker panel for the home is and how to disconnect the main breaker. Breaker panels should be labeled as detailed as possible.
- In the event of an electrocution, disconnect the power if the source is known and accessible. In the event a person is touching a downed power line or other damaged facilities belonging to Hartselle Utilities, call Hartselle Utilities immediately at (256) 773-3340 and be prepared to give the location (address). Never touch a person that is being electrocuted or in contact with electric power lines until power has been disconnected. To assist before power has been disconnected could cause the person assisting to be seriously or fatally injured. Call for medical help immediately (local hospital or 911), and if knowledgeable in first aid, administer.