Electric

Electric Safety

Electricity is important because it powers everything from simple household appliances to state-of-the-art, life saving devices. At GVEC, safety is a top priority, and we work to create a safe environment for our employees and the public. The key to safety is to use electricity wisely. Be aware of your surroundings and take the proper precautions anytime you plan to work with or around electric power. Whether at work or at play, we encourage you and your family to stay safe at all times.

Engineer in field

Home Safety

Outlets and Power Cords
  • Don’t overload outlets with too many appliances or cords.
  • Replace loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and become a fire hazard.
  • Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
  • Insert plugs fully, making sure no part of the prongs are exposed.
  • Never carry or drag anything by its cord.
  • Unplug an appliance by pulling the plug, not the cord.
  • Never break off the third prong on a plug. The third prong is a grounding wire to prevent or minimize shocks. Instead, replace the older two-prong outlet with a three-prong one.
  • Teach kids not to poke things into electric outlets.
  • Replace missing or broken wall plate covers.
  • Check to see if your outlets, especially those within 6 feet of water, have GFCIs installed. A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is an inexpensive electrical device designed to protect you from serious or fatal shock. It senses when there’s a ground fault, or leak in the current, and shuts off power to the circuit immediately. Most homes built after the mid-1970s have GFCIs, but check around your house and if you do not have GFCIs on your circuit breaker or outlets, have a qualified electrician install them. Click on Consumer Product Safety Commission or Underwriters Laboratories Inc. to learn about the three types of GFCIs and how to test them.
  • Test GFCIs once a month to make sure they are working properly. GFCIs should also be tested after installation and after a lightning storm.
  • Keep power cords and extension cords clean to prevent insulation from deteriorating, which could expose bare wiring. Store extension cords in a cool, dry place away from chemicals. When storing outdoors, hang cords to avoid insects or pests from chewing away the protective insulation.
  • Make sure cords are in good condition. A worn or cracked cord is an electrical hazard. Dispose of it immediately and use a new cord.
  • Do not place cords in walkways or let them hang from countertops or tabletops where they can be tripped over or pulled down.
  • Don’t run cords under rugs or carpet. The cord can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Don’t place furniture or heavy objects on top of cords.
  • Never tack or nail cords to floors or walls.
  • Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis, not as permanent wiring.
  • Make sure to use the correct extension cord for the job. Extension cords are rated according to the amount of power they can supply.
  • Make sure all cords are approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).
  • Unplug electronic devices such as computers, televisions, DVD players, and VCRs if you are home during a lightning storm. This will protect the devices in the event of a power surge.
  • Install a surge arrestor at the fuse box or breaker panel to protect your entire home in case of a power surge, or use surge suppressors on sensitive electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, DVD players, VCRs, and fax machines. Power surges are quick spikes of power that can travel through power lines and cause permanent damage to these home appliances. Surges are not only caused by lightning, as most of us think, but also when appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, and vacuum cleaners are turned on or off or from a downed utility pole. And in some cases, remote lightning strikes can cause surges.
  • Make sure your suppressor has been tested and approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or ETL-SEMKO (ETL) or is labeled- UL Listed Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor.
  • Do not rely on surge suppressors to protect your home from lightning damage. Surge suppressors can’t protect your home or your home’s wiring from a direct strike.
  • Do not overload power strips or surge suppressors with too many electrical devices.
  • Home Lighting
  • Read the manufacturer’s safety instructions on all lighting fixtures.
  • Use the correct wattage bulbs; a bulb with a higher wattage can overheat and become a fire hazard.
  • Ensure bulbs are secured properly in the fixture. A loose bulb may overheat and catch fire.
  • Halogen floor lamps, also called torchieres, can become extremely hot and are a potential fire hazard. Keep the lamps clear from curtains, rugs, bedding, and other furnishings. Look for lamps that use cooler, more efficient fluorescent bulbs.
Home Lighting
  • Read the manufacturer’s safety instructions on all lighting fixtures.
  • Use the correct wattage bulbs; a bulb with a higher wattage can overheat and become a fire hazard.
  • Ensure bulbs are secured properly in the fixture. A loose bulb may overheat and catch fire.
  • Halogen floor lamps, also called torchieres, can become extremely hot and are a potential fire hazard. Keep the lamps clear from curtains, rugs, bedding, and other furnishings. Look for lamps that use cooler, more efficient fluorescent bulbs.
Home Appliances
  • Keep appliances clean. Dirt, dust, and lint are combustible and can make an appliance unsafe to use.
  • Be careful using electrical appliances near sinks or bathtubs. If your hands are wet or you are standing on a wet floor, you are at a higher risk of electrical shock.
  • Never try to pick up an appliance that has fallen into water unless you are absolutely certain it is unplugged.
  • Unplug all small electrical appliances when not in use, including clothes irons, curling or straightening irons, hairdryers, shavers, electric blankets, coffee makers, blenders, and toasters.
  • Always unplug an appliance before cleaning it.
  • Teach children not to poke things into toasters or other appliances and to never place anything metal inside the microwave.
  • Never use an appliance with a damaged or worn cord; always check for exposed wire before use.
  • Never go to sleep with a heating pad turned on.
  • Check to see that all of your electric appliances and power tools are approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and always read the manufacturer’s instruction manual for proper use guidelines. A poorly designed or manufactured appliance or device could be defective and lead to electric shock or cause a fire.
  • Make sure stovetop burners, ovens, toaster ovens, and other kitchen appliances are turned off when you leave your home.
  • Most portable electric space heaters require a lot of power to operate. It is recommended that you always plug the heater directly into an outlet. If it’s absolutely necessary to use an extension cord, the cord must be rated for the size of the electric space heater that is being used.
  • Place portable space heaters on a level surface, so they will not tip over, and keep the heater at least three feet away from draperies, rugs, furniture, and any other combustible material or liquid.
  • Check to see that your heater is approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory to ensure it meets safety standards.
  • Use a heater that has a protective guard around the heating element.
  • Make sure portable space heaters are turned off when you go to sleep and anytime you leave your home.
  • Don’t touch a portable heater if you are wet, and do not place wet clothes on it to dry.
  • Keep portable heaters out of walkways and out of children’s reach.
  • Always have the required number of smoke detectors on each floor of your home. Proper maintenance, including testing detectors once a month and changing the batteries annually, is key to proper operation. It’s also important that your family has an escape route planned in case of a fire.
  • For overall safety, have a licensed electrician inspect your home’s wiring, circuits, and appliances.
Power Outages
  • Be prepared for an outage in case of a severe storm by taking precautions now.
  • If someone in your home depends on electricity to run a life support system, have an alternative source of power readily available or make plans to move to another location.
  • Always have an alternative source of light on hand and easily accessible. If using a flashlight, keep fresh batteries available. If using candles or kerosene/oil lamps, make sure you have extra oil to keep them running.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries handy so you’ll be able to tune in to local news for weather reports and updates.
  • Unplug sensitive electronic devices such as computers, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, and stereos. Another option is to connect surge protectors to your devices to help avoid damage from a power surge.
  • Turn off all major appliances or devices that come on automatically, so there’s not an overload on your home’s electrical system when the power comes back on. Leave one lamp on so you’ll know when the power is back on.
  • Turn off the oven and stove if you plan to leave the house to avoid a fire if the power returns while you’re gone.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible to preserve the cold food longer.
  • If you plan to use a portable standby generator, refer to the Standby Generators safety tips.
Standby Generators
  • Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring or to a regular power outlet. A portable electric generator directly connected to your home’s wiring can “backfeed” onto the power lines connected to your home, which can be deadly to anyone coming in contact with them, including linemen making repairs. If a lineman is repairing the cause of the outage, even if it’s far down the lines, the sudden increase in volts running through the lines can cause severe injury or death.
  • A properly sized transfer switch should be installed to prevent the possibility of generator ‘back feed’ on to the power lines.
  • Plan before you buy. Have a licensed electrician find out what type of power output you would need for a generator to run the appliances in your home.
  • If you currently have a generator, check the output rating before use to make sure it can handle your power needs.
  • Always read the manufacturer’s safety instructions before using a generator.
  • Make sure the generator is properly grounded.
  • Never use a portable generator inside your home, garage, or in any other closed area. A generator releases toxic carbon monoxide gas into the air, which is extremely dangerous. Place a generator in a dry, well-ventilated, outdoor area and keep it sheltered from rain and snow.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated in watts or amps equal to or greater than the sum of the connected appliance loads.
  • Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be used only when necessary and only to power essential equipment or appliances. Overloading will damage your appliances and the generator.
  • Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, in properly labeled containers and away from fuel burning appliances.
  • Always turn the generator off and let it cool down before re-fueling.
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting the generator down.
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.

Child Safety

Children are curious and do not understand the dangers of electricity. If you have infants or small children living in your home, please take precautions to prevent an electricity-related accident and start teaching them how to stay safe around electricity. The Home Safety tips listed above are important to teach your children. Below, we’ve provided you with a few additional tips to ensure your child’s safety.

Indoor

  • Teach kids not to overload electric outlets.
  • Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent children from shock hazards.
  • Make sure cords do not dangle from the counter or tabletop where children can pull them down or trip over them.
  • Teach children that water and electricity don’t mix!
  • Do not use electric blankets on children.
  • Remove damaged or frayed cords from your home.
  • Unplug small appliances that children might try to play with.
  • Keep electrical devices out of a kid’s reach.

Outdoor

  • Keep children away from equipment and power tools such as mowers, weed-eaters, hedge trimmers, saws, drills, and blades. A child does not understand how dangerous these devices can be and numerous youngsters suffer serious injuries from power equipment each year.
  • Teach kids to never fly kites or model airplanes around power lines or to climb utility poles or trees near power lines. If a tree’s branches are touching a power line, a child can suffer electric shock.
  • Instruct kids not to play around substations.
  • Inform children to stay away from fallen power lines and to find an adult for help.
  • Teach kids not to play outside during a lightning storm.
  • Instruct kids not to put out an electrical fire with water.

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