Safety is our first concern, both for the public and our employees. Whenever you see a downed power line, call MEC with the location and remember to STAY AWAY from downed lines. If cutting trees after a storm, avoid trees that are touching or are near power lines. It is always best to treat all lines as if they are energized and Contact Us for assistance when removing any trees near power lines.
For sensitive loads, such as computers, you may want to consider purchasing a battery-backed power supply, referred to as an Uninteruptible Power Supply (UPS). This can prevent your computer from shutting off if the lights blink. You may also want to consider surge protection products. There are a variety of whole house surge protection packages available for appliances and point-of-use devices that help prevent damage to microprocessor-based equipment, such as microwaves, VCRs, TVs, etc. If you would like assistance selecting this equipment, Contact Us.
You could also install a generator to provide energy to critical loads such as the furnace, refrigerator and well pump. MEC employees can provide you with information on this.
Remember--Do Not plug in a generator to your main supply box. This could put fatal voltage back onto the power lines outside.
Heater safety never out of season
If a few cool nights make you pull out the space heater again, we hope you didn't permanently put away those winter safety lessons.
Remember: Keep space heaters safely away from flammable materials such as beddings and drapes.
Also, use space heaters sparingly. A Beaufort County man died in a mobile home fire late last year, and authorities suspected it was started by space heaters in his bedroom. Investigators found multiple kerosene and electric space heaters there.
Finally, if the space heater you're using is getting old -- particularly if it doesn't have an automatic shut-off switch to prevent fires if the heater is knocked over, like most newer models -- consider shopping for a new one this spring, when prices are marked down.
Make fire response as easy as ABC, ASAP
In case of an electrical fire, are you prepared?
- Do not use water on an electrical fire
- If possible, unplug the appliance or equipment
- If the fire is small, use a fire extinguisher made for use with electrical fires, which includes those identified by the ABC- or C-type ratings
OK, now it's time for a pop quiz: Where, exactly, are the extinguishers in your home or business? If you can't say for sure within five seconds, it's time to find them and make sure everyone knows where they are.
If you can't find them in your home, go find some in a store, and buy them ASAP!
If you're in the (broken) pole position …
Racing around curves can put you in the wrong kind of pole position – trapped under a broken utility pole.
If you hit a power pole, remember these tips:
- Stay inside the vehicle and wait for rescue workers, if at all possible
- If you must flee due to a fire or other imminent danger, jump clear of any fallen lines without touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time
- Land with feet together, then keep them together and hop away to reduce the ground-fault voltage differential that might exist between normal footsteps
- Take care not to fall back toward the vehicle or any lines or other equipment that may be down.
Power line safety extends to farm equipment
It’s not just cars and trucks that can get tangled up in power lines. Farm tractors and equipment can easily hit an overhead line or a guy wire creating an electrical danger.
While similar power line safety tips for cars and trucks apply to farm equipment, there are additional tips that farmers need to follow:
- Apply decals to all equipment that may pose electrical hazards and explain the decals to persons who work with or around the equipment.
- Inspect farm equipment for transport height and determine clearance with any power lines under which the equipment must pass.
- Review the possibility of underground utility supplies for new or replacement power lines.
- Give all workers, especially those who are new to the farm, special instructions, such as, “Never transport this cultivator through this gate because of the overhead line.”
- If your tractor comes in contact with overhead power lines, stay on the tractor. Tell someone to contact the co-op or other power company immediately, so professional line crews can remove the danger.
- If you must leave the equipment, jump as far away from it as possible. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time.
- Never attempt to get back on or even touch equipment that is in contact with a power line.
Don't touch shocking victims
If someone is being shocked by an appliance, do not touch them or anything they are touching. Unplug the source or turn off the main power of the house.
Overhead or underground, be aware of power lines
Power lines may be closer than you think, particularly when you're distracted.
If you're going to be carrying a ladder or other long tool, look up and look around first. Make sure to keep them at least 10 feet away from all overhead lines, including the service from your house to the power pole near your home. It is covered with a protective jacket, but that covering could be worn from prolonged exposure to the elements. Or, it could be torn by your ladder or tool hitting it.
If you've got a shovel in hand, stop and think before you put it in the ground. Do you know for sure where the underground lines and equipment are located? If you aren't sure, call your cooperative before breaking ground. We'll have someone locate lines for you, free of charge.
Tool time? Tune up for springtime
You're itching to get out of the house and start those spring projects, we know. Make the first project a safety review of all electric tools.
Repair or replace any damaged tools as well as the power cords.
Once you're ready, remember to use only tools and wires that are rated for outdoor use. They should have heavier wiring and be double insulated or have three-way grounded plugs. When working outside or near water, be sure to plug tools into a outlets with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) only. These will quickly trip off the power if a fault is detected.