San Francisco - Springtime and warmer weather often bring a flurry of activity–both inside the home and outdoors. As we wrap up our spring cleaning, and begin landscaping projects in the yard, May's National Electrical Safety Month provides a good time to revisit the importance of safety when working around electrical equipment and power lines – both overhead and underground.
For those considering any home improvement repairs such as roof work, exterior painting, landscaping, fencing, tree trimming or building a patio, following a few simple precautions can help avoid a painful and costly accident.
"When starting summer projects, it is critical to be aware of the locations of overhead power lines, and to stay at least ten feet away from them when working outside," said David Powell, PG&E's public safety manager. "This is especially important when working with any long-handled tools like tree pruners or loppers. And when doing any digging or excavating, be sure to call Underground Service Alert at 1-800-227-2600 so all underground utility lines can be located and marked for free so you can excavate safely."
Following are a few simple safety tips to help homeowners work safely:
Working Safely Outdoors
- Look UP First. Wherever you are, always look up for power lines before you begin work. Make sure you take the necessary safety precautions to keep away from them.
- Remember the 10 Foot Rule: Keep all vehicles, equipment, tools and people at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. This is especially important when using long-handled tools or ladders.
- Pruning trees. Check for power lines that may run through or near trees. Branches may have grown too close to a power line, and you or your tools or ladder may come into contact with an overhead line.
- Be sure to use extension cords marked for outdoor use. An indoor extension cord used outdoors can result in electric shock or cause a fire hazard.
- If the job is too advanced for your skills, call a qualified and licensed professional to perform the job for you.
Use Electrical Tools Wisely
- Inspect and maintain your electrical tools regularly, including lawn mowers, hedge clippers, chain saws, and any shop tools like table saws, bench grinders and drill presses. Look for frayed power cords, broken plugs or cracked housings.
- Never use electrical tools in the rain or in wet areas. Specifically, do not use electrically powered lawn mowers on wet grass.
- Use three-pronged outlets and plugs and use properly-rated extension cords.
- Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment like face shields, safety glasses, gloves and boots. Refer to the owner's manual for recommended protective equipment.
Inspect your home for electrical safety
- Regularly check outlets and extension cords to make sure they aren't overloaded or frayed. Remember - don't place extension cords under rugs or carpets because they may become overheated and cause a fire.
- Make sure the proper wattage light bulbs are being used in light fixtures and lamps.
- Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) in areas that can get wet such as the kitchen, bathrooms or outdoors.
- Test your smoke detector monthly and replace batteries twice per year. Even if it is hard-wired, it still has a battery back-up that needs to be maintained.
Call Before You Dig
- "Call BeforeYou Dig"- whether you are planting a tree, building a fence or trenching for a sprinkler system, contacting an underground gas or electric line can be dangerous. Anyone planning an excavation project should call Underground Service Alert (USA) at 1-800-227-2600 at least two working days before starting to have all underground utility lines located and marked for free.
- After lines have been located, it is important to carefully hand excavate within 24 inches on either side of a utility-marked facility.
SOURCE: Pacific Gas and Electric Company