In modern times, we have come to depend on electricity for everything from the light in our room to complex equipment. It is not, however, a plaything. The chance of electrocution is small, but the results can be devastating. Every year in the U.S., tens of thousands of people are killed or injured from contact with electricity. Electric shocks from appliances and electrical outlets and cords can burn the skin and cause tissue and nerve damage. Bartlett Electric Cooperative, Inc has provided the following the Safety Tips to help keep you & your loved ones safe.

Proper Fire Extinguishers: Lack of over-current protection (fuses) or degradation if insulating materials or improper wire size, then use only fire extinguishers recommended for electrical fires.  Fire extinguishers rated for use on electrical fires will be labeled C, BC, or ABC.
If someone is being shocked: If someone is being shocked by electricity, disconnect the power source by turning off the circuit breaker only.  Never touch the person, try to unplug the cord, move an energized line with any object to fee the person being shocked.  After you have freed the injured person from the electrical hazard, CPR should be administered to resuscitate the individual, if necessary.

Machinery Entangled with Overhead Line: If you are operating farm machinery and it becomes entangled with overhead power lines, never try to leave the machinery.  Wait until help arrives, because the machinery itself can be energized.  And if you step off the machinery, you act as a path for electricity to ground and would receive an electric shock.  If it is necessary to leave the energized machine, as in case of fire, then you will need to jump free of the machine with both feet at one time.  Do not try to climb out of the machine as you would normally.

Fallen Power Lines: Always stay in your car if a fallen power line hits it, and wait for help to arrive. If the car catches fire, jump clear of the car without touching the metal and the ground at the same time.

Keeping Those Little Fingers Safe

  • Store cookies and other goodies far away from electric stoves.
  • Remove knobs from the stove or oven when you're not using it.
  • Buy a stove guard to prevent children from reaching up and touching hot burners or pulling down pots full of boiling food.
  • Cook on back burners whenever possible; turn pot handles to the center of the stove.
  • Keep children away from stove or oven while cooking, and teach them not to touch.
  • Lock the trash compactor.
  • Unplug small appliances when you're not using them so a child can't turn them on.
  • Load and unload dishwasher when children are not around.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and baking soda handy.
  • Install a night light in the bathroom.  Buy one that has an enclosed bulb so it can't be removed.
  • Tell children about the dangers of mixing electricity and water.
  • Lower the temperature on the hot water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Lock the doors to the utility room.
  • Unplug all power tools when not in use.
  • Lock the doors on any unused refrigerators and freezers

Lightning Protection

  • Plug-in surge suppression strips protect only those items plugged into them.  Get plenty to protect your computer and all your office equipment.
  • Whole-house surge arrestors aim to protect appliances that are wired to a home's power supply.  They're installed in a home's circuit breaker panel and their makers claim they protect against even major surges.
  • Buy a surge protector with a UL 1440 rating.
  • Choose one with an indicator light that shows the device is still working.  Sometimes, the surge protector will sacrifice itself during a spike in order to save the appliances it is protecting.

Household Wiring

  • Is your home more than (10) years old?
  • Do you have a problem with circuit breakers tripping frequently?
  • Are your lights dimming or electric motors running more slowly than they should?
  • Is the picture on your television constantly shrinking or fading?How do you know if your home is properly wired?  If you answered yes to three of the above questions, chances are that your electrical system needs upgrading.  Rewiring a home can be an expensive proposition, but it's almost certainly cheaper than a fire.

Plug Safety

  • Do use extension cords only on a temporary basis and within the limitations on the product label.
  • Do put covers on unused receptacle outlets and extension cords.
  • Do unplug appliances and call an electrician if there is sparking, smoke, or odor coming from the outlet
  • Do examine appliances and extension cords regularly for signs of wear and tear.
  • Do use extension cords that have been listed by Underwriters' Laboratories and other recognized certification organizations.
  • Don't use extension cords as a permanent substitute for inadequate house wiring.
  • Don't attach extension cords to the wall with nails and/or staples.
  • Don't put extension cords under rugs.
  • Don't use an extension cord with the insulation worn or damaged.
  • Don't overload cords with more than the proper electrical load.
  • Don't place any appliance cord on or near a hot surface.

General Safety

  • Stay away from green metal boxes: These boxes replace overhead lines and are found on backyard property lines or behind buildings.
  • Make sure tools and appliances are approved for outdoor use: Make sure they are made with heavier wiring and special insulation and three-way ground plugs. Always keep any electrical device or appliance away from water.
  • Storm Safety: Stay away from water, trees and power lines during an electrical storm.
  • Trees: Don't trim or cut trees that are growing near or beneath energized power lines.  Have this done by a qualified contractor or contact the cooperative to have the trees trimmed or cut. Do not plant new trees underneath power lines.  Small trees become large trees and will get into the power lines.
  • Antennas: Be careful installing and removing television antennas or satellite dishes.
  • Kites: Supervise your children when out flying their kites.  If kite does become entangled in power line, drop cord instantly and call the cooperative for assistance.
  • Obstructions: Never build a structure or pool under the power lines that connect your home to power facilities.
  • Children’s Safety: Keep yourself, your children and your pets away from substations and other utility equipment.  A toy rolls, or bounces inside, call your Cooperative (254-527-3551) for assistance.

Electric Barbeque Grills

  • Always read the manufactures instructions before firing up the grill for the first time this year.
  • Clean out the grill of cobwebs and other items that might have collected there during the winter.
  • Check your electrical cord for damage.  If damaged, then replace with new wire and plug.
  • Don't leave a hot grill unattended.  There is a danger of little children touching the grill.
  • To keep the grill from being knocked over, grill in an area far away from playing children.
  • Do not use your grill on the indoors unless it has been manufactured for that purpose.
  • Always keep your electric grill away from water, or areas of dampness.
  • Use waterproof extension cords outdoors.
  • Be sure to unplug your grill when not in use.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within 10 feet of your electric grill.  Some areas, that's the law.

Before you begin your next home improvement project, read this: The law requires you to call 811 at least two (2) business days before you dig 16 inches or deeper with mechanical equipment. The reason? Your call will notify local utilities of your plans, and they will find and flag their underground lines free of charge. This helps excavators know which areas to avoid so you don’t get injured or damage the utility lines.

Follow these five (5) steps to stay safe:

1. Call before you dig call toll-free 811. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven (7) days a week. The operator will ask you how long you’ll need to dig and how deep you plan to go. Then, he or she will contact your utilities so they can mark their lines. (Keep the reference number that the operator gives you. You’ll need the number if you call again regarding your request.) Note: Some water and sewer municipalities are not included in the one-call notification system. You should call them separately so they can mark the location of their underground equipment.
2. Wait two (2) business days. For example, if you plan to dig on Saturday, call by Wednesday. Texas law requires this time-frame to allow utilities enough time to flag their underground lines.
3. Watch for the marks. Utilities will point out the approximate location of buried facilities using paint, flags, stakes or a combination thereof. (If you outline the excavation area in white paint beforehand, they will better understand where you plan to dig.) Utilities observe a recognized code for marking underground lines:

Red = Electric Lines
Yellow = Gas Lines
Orange = Communication Lines
Green = Sewer and Drain Lines

4. Dig Carefully. Once the work begins, it’s up to you to use safe, accepted digging practices. (For instance, always hand-dig when you’re within two (2) feet of any marked lines.) Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If they’re damaged or destroyed, you must call 811 for a re-mark.