Electricity is so integrated into our daily lives that we often take the convenience it offers for granted. Though we have safe uses for it, electricity can become very dangerous if not used safely.
Basic Characteristics of Electricity
Electricity seeks the shortest path to the ground. When an object or person is too close to or comes in contact with a power line, the electricity travels at approximately 185,000 miles per hour through the person or object.
Electricity flowing through the human body can severely injure or kill a person. Electric power lines are not insulated like power cords used for appliances and other electric devices. Power lines have no protection when touched and should always be considered energized and very dangerous.
Overhead Power Lines
Substations and power lines are protected and secured for a reason. Never attempt to climb a fence to a substation or climb a utility pole. And remember that copper theft could cost you more than time in prison – you could be electrocuted while taking the copper and die.
When working around overhead lines, use extreme caution and ensure that you maintain at least a safe distance of 10 feet from any service or three-phase overhead line. Additional distance should be maintained from higher voltage lines. Electricity can arc to nearby equipment, even if it’s not directly touching lines. Because of this, always carry ladders and other equipment horizontally, not vertically. And, remember, you can always contact LCUB for additional assistance and advice if you will be working near overhead lines.
Underground Power Lines
Overhead power lines are easier to identify than underground. Especially in recent years, underground utilities have become increasingly popular in new commercial and residential development.
Even though you cannot see them, underground lines present the same safety issues as overhead lines and are just as dangerous. Any time you dig, excavate, or move earth, regardless of how small the job might be, contact Tennessee One-Call 811 to have underground lines properly marked. Locators will also mark any other underground lines, including gas and water, so you can complete your project safely.
Green transformer enclosures may be located in your subdivision or in commercial areas. While these structures are secured and are relatively safe, it’s important to never attempt to open the box and that children understand to leave them alone. Never plant shrubs or trees near underground transformers in attempt to landscape around or conceal the device. They must remain easily accessible by utility workers for routine maintenance and repair work to ensure your safety.
Around the House
Caution should also be followed anytime you use an electrical device around the house:
- Never insert your finger or any other object into outlets. Take care to not touch any metal portion of a device you are plugging into an outlet.
- Limit the number of devices plugged into each outlet. Circuit overload can cause fires.
- Routinely inspect electrical cords and plugs for appliances to ensure they are not damaged. If it is damaged, do not use it and contact a licensed electrician if you need additional assistance or advice.
- Install outlet covers and protectors if small children are in your home.
- Do not remove ground pins (the third prong) from plugs. Always use a two prong adapter if your outlets do not have a ground pin.
- GFCIs (or GFIs) should be used in any area where water and electricity may contact one another. Routinely test GFCIs to ensure they work properly.
- Keep all appliances, radios, and any other electric powered device away from water.