Electricity is essential to modern life. Because it's used every day, it often isn't treated with the respect it deserves. Some 350 electrical-related fatalities occur each year. The following hazards are the most frequent causes of electrical injuries:
Contact with Power Lines
Aluminum paint rollers
Long-handled cement finishing floats
Metal building materials
Raised dump truck beds
Overhead and buried power lines are especially hazardous because they carry extremely high voltage. Fatal electrocution is the main risk, but burns and falls from elevations are also hazards. Using tools and equipment that can contact power lines increases the risk. Examples of equipment that can contact power lines include:
To avoid hazards:
Look for overhead power lines and buried power line indicators.
Post warning signs.
Contact utilities for buried power line locations.
Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines.
Unless you know otherwise, assume that overhead lines are energized.
Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders when working near power lines.
Lack of Ground Fault Protection
Normal use of electrical equipment can cause wear and tear that results in insulation breaks, short-circuits, and exposed wires. Without proper protection, a ground fault can occur, resulting in electrical burns, explosions, fire or death.
To avoid ground fault hazards:
Use ground-fault circuit interrupters on all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles, or have an assured equipment grounding conductor program.
Follow manufacturers' recommended testing procedure to insure GFCI is working correctly.
Use double-insulated tools and equipment, distinctively marked.
Use tools and equipment according to the instructions included in their listing, labeling or certification.
Visually inspect all electrical equipment before use. Remove from service any equipment with frayed cords, missing ground prongs, cracked tool casings, etc.
Flexible cords are finely stranded for flexibility, so straining a cord can cause the strands of one conductor to loosen from under terminal screws and touch another conductor. Make sure flexible cords are connected to devices and to fittings in ways that prevent tension at joints and terminal screws.
A flexible cord may be damaged by door or window edges, by staples and fastenings, by abrasion from adjacent materials or simply by aging. If the electrical conductors become exposed, there is a danger of shocks, burns, or fire.
Extension cords must be 3-wire type so they may be grounded and to permit grounding of any tools or equipment connected to them.
Stay away from downed power lines, you never know if one is "live"
Always fly your kites and model planes in open fields, away from overhead power lines or electrical equipment.
Keep things that use electricity away from sinks and bathtubs.
Never use an appliance while standing in water or on a wet floor.
Don't stick anything in an outlet other than a plug or plastic cap.
Avoid shocks by pulling the plug, not the cord (wires won't break inside either.)
Don't let cords dangle where you may trip over them.
When a cord connector is wet, electric current can leak to the equipment grounding conductor and to humans who pick up that connector if they provide a path to ground. Leakage can occur not just on the face of the connector, but at any wetted portion. Limit exposure of connectors and tools to excessive moisture by using watertight or sealable connectors.
Pad mount Transformers
What are those green electrical boxes found in yards or back alleys? To the Electric Utility these boxes are known as Pad mount Transformers. Pad mount transformers lower the voltage of the electricity from distribution levels to the 120/240-volt level used in homes. They are located in the Utility-Right-of-Way in underground services areas. If you have one on your property, contact Umatilla Electric Cooperative about landscaping and fencing around transformers. You can reach us at 567-6414. While the transformers are safe on the property, follow the safety signs on the transformer and keep curious children away.