Whether it’s watching TV, charging cellphones, or flipping a light switch to a room, we owe many of our modern comforts to the electricity flowing through our walls and the power lines above our head. May is National Electrical Safety Month and the safety of our employees and members is Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative’s top priority. Your cooperative wants to remind you that as wonderful as electricity is, it can be extremely dangerous. Follow these tips and remind your family to use electricity responsibly.
Before starting any outdoor project, look out for overhead power lines.
Never touch a power line. Contact with an energized line can injure or kill you. If you see a downed power line, stay at least 50 feet away. Call 911 immediately and warn anyone nearby of the danger and to stay also away. Telephone and cable lines can be energized so do not assume they are ok to touch.
Do not assume a black power line is insulated. Often, what appears as black insulation is only a soft covering to protect energized metal wires from the weather.
Tree branches can become electrical conductors. If a tree is in contact with or near a power line, call OTEC before trimming branches and touching the tree.
Carry ladders and other long equipment horizontally to avoid contact with power lines and be sure to always look overhead before raising a ladder or other long equipment.
Extension Cord and Power Strip Safety
Make sure extension cords are approved by an independent testing laboratory and appropriately rated for their use—indoor or outdoor— and meet or exceed the power needs of the device being used.
Do not plug extension cords or power strips into one another. Extending the length of your cord, or “daisy chaining,” is the most common cause of overheating. It overloads the cord and creates a serious fire hazard.
Inspect extension cords before using. Look for wear and tears along the insulated cord, and check your sockets for bare wiring, metal parts and loose connections.
Do not use an extension cord or power strip with heaters or fans, which could cause cords to overheat and result in a fire. Plug heaters and fans directly into a wall outlet.
Do not staple or nail extension cords to any surface. This could damage the cords. Do not run extension cords through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors. Keep the cords uncovered so heat can escape.
Keep outdoor extension cords away water sources.
Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots. Anything in contact with the loose prong could catch fire, and never cut off the third grounding pin: it could cause electrical shock.
Use surge-protected power strips. This helps prevent fires and protects your electrical equipment from surge- related damage. Always follow manufacturers recommendations.
If your home is littered with extension cords and power strips, hire an electrician to install additional wall outlets.
Remember that power strips only add additional outlets. They do not change the amount of power received from the outlet. Ensure you do not overload the circuit to which the power cord is attached.
Avoid Overloading Circuits
Do not overload your electrical system. Overloaded circuit warning signs are flickering, blinking, or dimming lights; frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses; warm or discolored wall plates; cracking, sizzling or buzzing from receptacles; a burning odor from receptacles or wall switches; and a mild shock or tingle from appliances, receptacles or switches.
To prevent electrical overloads:
Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances.
All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Plug only one heat-producing appliance into a receptacle outlet at a time.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 50% of electrical fires that occur every year can be prevented by arc-fault circuit interrupters.
Use the appropriate watt bulb for lighting fixtures. Using a larger watt lightbulb may cause a fire. Use LED bulbs when possible; these use much lower wattage which can help reduce your electric bill.
Other home safety tips:
Place outlet covers (safety caps) on unused outlets to prevent children and pets from accidentally placing items in the socket, which may cause a fire or cause serious injury. It will also help you save energy by eliminating cold drafts.
Do not yank electrical cords from the wall. Pulling cords can damage the wall, socket and insulating material surrounding the wire.
Make sure your electrical cords are tucked away to avoid tripping on them, which could cause fire, electrocution, or other injuries.
Never stick non-electrical items in outlets. They will become electrified and cause fire or serious injury.
Visit otec.coop/safety for more safety tips. Call the OTEC office at 541-523-3616 if you have any questions regarding safety.