Public Electrical Safety
General Guidelines for Appliance Safety
- Electricity and water don’t mix
- Keep hair dryers and curling irons away from bathtubs, sinks and showers
- Keep appliances away from sinks and wet hands. Wet skin increases the risk of shock.
- Unplug an appliance before cleaning; even it is off, it still can shock.
- Never put metal objects in live parts of appliances or in an outlet—it can conduct electricity and shock or kill.
- If an appliance overheats, unplug it and have it checked.
- Don’t overload outlets; it creates a fire hazard. Use only one plug per outlet.
- Ground plugs, or three-prong plugs, are for your safety. The third prong connects inside the outlet with a “ground wire.” In the event of a short circuit, electricity should flow through the grounding system instead of through you. Never remove the third prong.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are used in bathrooms, garages, near kitchen sinks and outdoors. GFCIs monitor the flow of current to and from appliances, and if there’s an imbalance, shuts off the power to prevent serious injury.
- If an appliance shuts off, find out why. Is it a frayed wire? Too many appliances on one outlet? Defective appliance? If you can’t find the answer easily, don’t take any chances: call an electrician.
- Extension cords are for temporary use. Keep them away from moisture, heat or metal pipes. Never put an extension cord under a rug.
- A short or an overload will blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker. Try unplugging some of the appliances on the circuit before replacing the fuse, with the correct amperage, or flipping the breaker switch back to on.
- Note: always check your breakers and the fuse box before calling Platte-Clay when you have an outage. It may be just one too many television sets and personal computers running at the same time. Reduce the demand and flip the switch or replace the fuse with one of the correct amperage. Teach those old enough to be responsible where the breaker or fuse box is, which may be outside on a pole, so they can help find and isolate the problem.
- Turn off lights and appliances when leaving. Wasting energy is wasting money.
What to do in the Event of an Electrical Fire
- If you smell smoke or see a flame, unplug the appliances involved or turn off power at the main breaker or fuse box.
- If you have a multipurpose fire extinguisher, Class C electrical fire extinguisher or baking soda, and the fire is small, it may be possible to put it out. Never use water.
- In general, it’s better to never take a chance, because time is of the essence. Call 911 on your way out the door with everyone.
- Give the dispatcher your name and address and let them know that you have an electrical fire.
Downed Power Lines and Other Outdoor Hazards
- If a power line hits your car or truck when you’re in it, stay inside until emergency workers arrive. Warn others to stay away from your car: if the line is live, and we always must assume that it is, it can kill them.
If you must exit the car because of fire or another emergency:
- Jump clear without touching the car and the ground at the same time.
- Land with your feet together.
- Shuffle away with your feet close together.
- Immediately call 911 and Platte-Clay at 816-628-3121 with the location of the downed power line on a vehicle or across a road.
- Never climb power poles or transmission towers. Stay clear of high voltage towers; never touch or climb on one.
- Don’t shoot or throw rocks at electrical equipment or the ceramic insulators that keep high voltage overhead wires away from the supporting poles and towers.
- Keep away from transformers. Transformers in substations, on poles and in boxes in the yard change high voltage to levels that can be used in homes or businesses. If you find a transformer with an open door, call Platte-Clay, (816) 628-3121. After hours the call will be sent to the emergency dispatch group.
Right Tree in Right Place
Planting Trees in Relation to Power Lines
Trees are one of the best landscape investments we can make. They can shade our homes or buildings to keep them cooler in the summer and they can serve as a windbreak in the winter. In both cases, these lovely, long-lived plants help save on our energy costs.
As eager as many of us are to start improving our property with trees, it’s important to take electric, and other utilities, into consideration.
- First, call before you dig. It’s the law.
The toll-free number is 1-800-Dig-Rite (or 1-800-344-7483). To make an online request and for more information, visit the Missouri One Call System website, www.mo1call.com
- Second, remember not to plant in the rights of way. Crews may need to repair or replace electric (or other) lines. Platte-Clay’s tree trimming crew will cut down trees in the rights of way because trees growing into the lines represent a safety, a reliability and a budgeting issue.
- Third, remember to plant so the tree limbs can’t touch, reach over or through the electric lines. Trees can conduct electricity if they come in contact with power lines. Further, when weighed down with ice, or wind whipped during one of our Midwestern thunderstorms, can pull the electric lines down and cause a power outage.
For best results, please visit the Arbor Foundation and find the right tree for the right place by following this link.
If Someone is Shocked
What to do if Someone is Shocked
- Don’t touch anyone in contact with a power source — you could be killed or seriously injured.
- Turn off the power at the control panel, then call for help and tell the emergency dispatcher that it’s an electrical injury.
- Once the power has been turned off, if the victim isn’t breathing, apply CPR until the emergency services arrive.
- Cover the victim with a blanket and keep their head low and seek medical attention.
- Administering CPR requires training, usually available through the local Red Cross, fire department or hospital.
The video was produced as part of FEMA’s community preparedness activities.