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Safety Tips

Small appliances

  • Fully assemble appliances before plugging them in.
  • Unplug small appliances when you've finished using them.
  • Never use an appliance around or in a wet area.
  • Teach children not to touch appliances with wet hands.

Lighting

  • Use bulbs of the appropriate wattage in fixtures and lamps. Higher than recommended wattage bulbs can overheat the bulb and may lead to fire. If the recommended wattage is not on the fixture, use a 60-watt bulb.
  • Do not place insulation over recessed lighting. Do not place anything combustible near halogen lamps.

Check your fuse box or breaker panel. If an electrical inspection has been conducted, there should be a label on the panel with a date and initials of the inspector. If you can't find a label, don't remove the service-panel cover to look for one – that is a job for a qualified electrician. If you haven't had an inspection in more than ten years, or if you've installed any temporary wiring or added a lot of additional electric load, you should contact a licensed electrician or safety inspector to give your home a check-up. When working on your control box, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you're not a licensed electrician, never try to repair a fuse or breaker box. If you see broken or frayed wires, if certain circuits trip frequently, or if you notice any other problems, call an electrician.
  • Never replace a blown fuse with a substitute and always use the correct-sized fuse for replacement. A fuse that is too powerful can cause a fire hazard.
  • If a fuse or circuit breaker frequently blows, you may have too many appliances, or appliances that may be too powerful, on that circuit. Try unplugging a few items. Then, if the circuit continues to blow, call an electrician – you may have a potentially serious problem.
  • Always keep water away from the control panel.
  • NEVER work on the electrical system while a control panel switch is on.
  • If you have a power outage, check the control panel first. If your panel uses circuit breakers, reset it (them) from off to on. If you have fuses, look for the broken metal strip in the top of the blown fuse. Then, replace the fuse with one of the correct amperage.
  • When unplugging a cord, pull on the plug, not the cord.
  • Repair or replace damaged cords.
  • Don't place cords where someone can easily trip over them or where people will be walking on them (under carpets, across doorways, etc.).
  • When operating power tools, be sure to keep the cord away from the tool.
  • Don't coil appliance or extension cords while they're in use.
  • Avoid using extension cords when possible. If you must use an extension cord, pick one that is at least as large as the appliance's cord.
  • If more than one appliance is being connected to an extension cord, add the individual amp ratings of the appliances together and check that sum against the amp rating of the cord.
  • Use a three-wire extension cord with an appliance that has a three-wire cord.
  • Use a moisture-resistant cord outside.
  • Unplug extension cords when not in use.
  • Don't use extension cords as substitutes for permanent wiring.
  • Unplug kitchen appliances, like toasters and coffeemakers, when you're not using them and never allow appliances like a stove or microwave to remain running when you leave home.
  • Never use a fork, knife or other metal object that conducts electricity to clean debris from “live” kitchen appliances such as toasters and toaster ovens. For routine cleaning, make sure these appliances are switched off and disconnected before you clean their internal parts.
  • Avoid using electricity near water and other liquids. Clean up all spillages in or around an electrical appliance after making sure the power supply has been disconnected. Never submerge an appliance or its electrical cord or plug in water or any other liquid.
  • Install a sufficient number of GFCI's in your kitchen. GFCI's are designed to prevent shock hazards by interrupting power if electrical current leaks from a damaged cord or appliance.
  • Always check your kitchen appliances for damaged cords or plugs before you use them. Contact with a faulty or frayed power cord or a broken appliance can cause electric shock. If an appliance malfunctions or appears to be damaged in any way, make sure the appliance is disconnected from the power outlet and have it repaired or replaced immediately.
  • Never let power cords or plugs dangle over the edge of counters or come in contact with hot surfaces. Dangling cords are a danger to small children who might pull them. Kitchen appliances should never be placed near a hot gas or electric burner.

Tips for Using Your Microwave Oven

  • To prevent facial burns or exposure to radiation from a defective appliance, microwaves should be kept high above the reach and eye level of children.
  • Use only containers and tableware stamped “microwave safe.” Cooking trays made of metal or aluminum should never be used to heat meals. Never put aluminum foil in a microwave since it can ignite.
  • If food you're preparing catches on fire, unplug the cord immediately but do not open the door. This will only feed oxygen to the fire. Wait for the fire to extinguish then remove the contents from the oven.
  • Always use caution when removing items from your microwave. While your microwave stays cool, what's being cooked inside becomes very hot.

Source: Leviton Institute

Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends following these portable electric generator safety precautions to avoid dangerous situations.

  • NEVER operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, including homes, garages and basements. Generators produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas.
  • Keep the generator dry. To protect it from moisture, operate on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator. Or, use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated in watts or amps at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads.
  • Do not connect your generator directly to your household wiring, as this can backfeed along the power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs.
  • Make sure the generator is properly grounded.
  • Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment or appliances.
  • Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, away from living areas, in properly labeled containers, and away from fuel-burning appliances. And before re-fueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe operation and maintenance.
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.

What is Underwriters Laboratory?

When shopping for items such as light switches, receptacles, dimmers or surge protectors, the Leviton Institute advises you to look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratory Inc.) label. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is an independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization. The UL label indicates that an electrical product satisfies the safety requirements of Underwriters Laboratories, one of the nation's oldest and most trusted product testing organizations.

What does the UL Label Mean?

This label is also your assurance that the electrical products you purchase are tested and retested often by their manufacturers to comply with UL safety standards. UL inspectors frequently visit facilities that manufacture electrical components. Typically, the inspectors will walk into a plant unannounced and conduct random checks of products coming off the assembly line.

Where to Find the Label on Household Products ?

If you're unsure of what the UL label looks like, check your toaster or hair dryer. You'll see the encircled letters “UL” somewhere on the device. According to UL, you should make sure its label appears on every electrical product, fire extinguisher and fuel-burning appliance in your home. UL also tests heating, air conditioning and refrigeration products to make sure they won't pose a hazard to your health and safety.

Do Manufacturers Test their Own Products for Safety?

Even though UL has developed more than 800 different safety standards, product manufacturers also subject their products to rigorous safety and durability checks before they introduce them to the marketplace. Often a manufacturer's standard may exceed UL's requirements and those of other industry associations. For these companies the safety of their products is serious business, so they typically design and manufacture products that exceed industry standards. The Leviton Test Laboratory in Little Neck, New York, for example, continually tests new products to ensure that they meet the highest safety standards. In testing a light switch, the switch is turned on and off 30,000 times in succession. It would take nearly a lifetime to duplicate this frequency in a typical home. In another test, an electrical plug is inserted and withdrawn from a receptacle 200 times in rapid succession. The resulting electrical arc places more stress on the receptacle than it would be subjected to in a typical home environment.

Classifying Electrical Devices

Electrical devices fall into one of five specification categories that reflect the environment in which they will be used: Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Federal Specification and Hospital Grade. Homeowners and new homebuyers need not look beyond Residential grade to find a safe, high-quality product, advises the Leviton Institute. As long as a product carries the UL listing, consumers can be assured that it has undergone a rigorous regimen of testing and when used properly, will function effectively throughout its service life.

Source: Leviton Institute

Trees

  • Take care when climbing in trees.
  • Always look for power lines before climbing.
  • Once in the tree it may be difficult to spot lines as they tend to blend in with the colors of the tree.
  • Do not cut trees near power lines. If there are power lines running through the trees, please call us.

Poles

  • Utility poles are not bulletin boards. Please do not attach signs, antennas, or any other items to utility poles. They create a hazard for workers who must climb the pole and reduce the life of the pole.
  • Do not climb poles or fly kites near electric lines.

Substations

  • Stay away from substations. The high-voltage equipment in our power substations is very dangerous.

Trees

  • Take care when climbing in trees.
  • Always look for power lines before climbing.
  • Once in the tree it may be difficult to spot lines as they tend to blend in with the colors of the tree.
  • Do not cut trees near power lines. If there are power lines running through the trees, please call us.

Poles

  • Utility poles are not bulletin boards. Please do not attach signs, antennas, or any other items to utility poles. They create a hazard for workers who must climb the pole and reduce the life of the pole.
  • Do not climb poles or fly kites near electric lines.

Substations

  • Stay away from substations. The high-voltage equipment in our power substations is very dangerous.

from the Electrical Safety Foundation International

To help ensure a safe and warm heating season, many experts recommend an annual inspection and tune-up of home heating systems before temperatures begin to drop.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers the following tips:

  • Have your heating systems inspected by a qualified service professional at least once a year. This inspection should include lubrication and cleaning, replacing filters, a check of belts and thermostats and having vents cleared of obstructions, as necessary.
  • Make sure window air conditioners do not allow cold air to sneak through or around sides, top and bottom, putting an extra strain on heating systems and adding cost for homeowners. Local hardware stores can provide covers and other easy, low-cost ways to keep that cold air out.
  • Caulking around windows and other openings can stop the cold air invasion dead in its tracks. Caulking and a caulking gun from your local hardware are inexpensive and easy to use. A warmer home and lower utility bills can result.
  • Use products only for their intended purposes. Hair dryers aren't intended to thaw frozen pipes, dry clothing or warm bedding.
  • When using a portable electric heater, keep flammable materials - bedding, clothing, draperies, rugs and furniture - at last three feet away even if it has safety features such as cut-off switches or heating element guards.
  • If you use an electric blanket to keep warm on a cold night, follow the manufacturer's instructions and make sure you turn it off and unplug it when it's not in use. Never tuck in an electrical blanket.

Holiday Season Lights

  • Use only lights safety-certified by Underwriters laboratories (UL) or another recognized testing agency.
  • Before plugging in any lights – old or new – check for cracked or loose sockets and connections, exposed wires, and frayed, broken or scorched insulation. Then put the lights on a nonflammable surface and plug them in for 10 or 15 minutes to check for melting, smoking or overheating. Throw away any string of lights showing flaws.
  • Be careful not to overload electrical outlets. Never string more than three sets of lights on an extension cord.
  • Do not string lights behind drapes or under carpets.
  • Turn off the lights when leaving the house and before going to bed.
  • Never put lights on a metal tree: if they malfunction, a person could get shocked by touching any part of the tree.
  • Never use indoor lights outdoors; they aren't waterproof and could short-circuit. Always use grounded and weather-proof extension cords with outdoor lights. Don't use outdoor lights indoors; they are hotter than indoor lights.
  • Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into an outlet.
  • If you are using a ladder, avoid contact with overhead power lines when setting up your ladder, stringing lights, or working on the roof.
  • If extension cords and light strings are connected together outdoors, keep the connections dry by wrapping them with friction tape.
  • Plug all outdoor holiday lights into a special receptacle called a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). This receptacle is special because it provides personal protection from electrical shocks. A GFCI receptacle will have two buttons: “test” and “reset.” If your receptacle has these, then you have a GFCI receptacle.
  • Another option is to purchase an inexpensive extension cord set that has a built-in GFCI receptacle. First plug the GFCI cord set into the outdoor outlet and then plug your other extension cords and holiday lights in the GFCI cord set.

Space Heaters

from Cooperative.com Federated Staff

When the cold winds of winter start to blow, many people turn to space heaters as a way of adding extra heat to a room. While they are a source of supplemental heat, if not used safely, they can present a safety hazard.

When purchasing a space heater, always choose a model with a guard in front of the heating device. This is an important safety feature as it keeps people from touching the hot surface. Always check that the space heater has been tested at an accredited laboratory to ensure it meets proper safety standards. Also consider the size of the space you want to heat when selecting a space heater. If the wrong size is purchased it can waste energy.

Carefully read the manufacturer's safety and operating information. Make sure everyone that will be using the space heater has read the directions as well. And, make sure the safety instructions are kept in a handy place where they can be referred to later.

It is important to remember to always turn off the space heater when not in use. When deciding where to place the space heater, make sure it is at least three feet from any flammable objects or chemicals. Also make sure nothing nearby can fall into the space heater and catch on fire. Place the space heater on a level, hard surface, never on carpet. This will keep it from tipping over and from starting a fire. In case the space heater should tip over, it is important to choose a model with a switch that will shut off the heater until it is turned upright again.

Pay attention when plugging in the heater as well. Make sure you are not plugging it in near places that may accumulate moisture. If a space heater gets wet it can become a shock hazard. Avoid using extension cords if possible with space heaters. Check that the plug fits into the outlet securely, a loose plug may overheat. If the plug feels warm, disconnect it immediately.

Space heaters are a way of driving the chill out of drafty rooms on cold winter days. However, like other electric appliances, they must be kept in good condition and used carefully to keep your family and home safety.

Snow Plow Safety

  • CVEA would like to remind everyone to be careful when plowing snow this winter. Watch out for CVEA facilities like guy wires, pad mount enclosures, and poles.
  • If you are unsure of facilities in your area, please call CVEA. We will be happy to send a crew to locate facilities for you.
  • If you are plowing in areas containing overhead electrical structures and equipment, there still may be underground equipment in the area. If you are unsure, call CVEA to request a locate.
  • If you are plowing in areas containing overhead electrical structures and equipment, you need to maintain a minimum of 10' clearance between the highest point of your equipment and the lowest electrical equipment. If you are unsure of the distances or would like a safety assessment, please call CVEA for assistance in determining the potential safety issue.
  • If you hit any CVEA equipment while removing snow, do not approach the equipment to assess the damage. Immediately call CVEA so that we can dispatch someone to assess the damage.
  • CVEA attempts to maintain snow markers on all underground equipment but cannot assure that the markers have not been damaged due to actions by others. Damage done to electrical facilities during snow removal will be charged to the plow operator.
  • Do not push snow against or pile snow on top of any electrical equipment. The force of the moving snow may cause damage to the equipment and create electrical hazards. Also, the reliability of the electric system is compromised because of the barrier created by the snow pile when access becomes necessary.
  • Watch the trees around your home for snow loading conditions. As the snow accumulates, trees tend to lean. If you have trees that are beginning to lean towards your power lines, please call CVEA as soon as possible.

Please do not cut trees near power lines.

Contact CVEA to make arrangements for removing these danger trees.

Further Education

See our Education page for available safety programs.