Electricity is a vital resource North Carolinians depend on daily, but when used unsafely, the consequences can be costly and sometimes even deadly. Between 2010 and 2014, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to an average of 45,210 home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction. These fires caused annual averages of 420 civilian deaths, 1,370 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage. Additionally, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 400 people in the United States are electrocuted each year.
Many of these tragedies involve common items such as power outlets, appliances, power cords, power equipment and extension cords. Sadly, most of these deaths and injuries are preventable.
To help reduce electric safety casualties and injuries, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are dedicated to raising awareness of electric safety information to educate people of all ages on the dangers of electricity.
Inside the Home:
- Inspect electrical cords often for broken connectors or fraying. Throw away any worn cords to eliminate the possibility of shock, short circuit or fire.
- Don’t overload power outlets.
- The wattage of the bulbs you use in your home should match the wattage indicated on the light fixture. Overheated fixtures can lead to a fire.
- When trying to unplug something from an outlet, pull on the plug, not the cord.
- Keep in mind that turned off appliances are still connected to electricity until they are unplugged. Always unplug appliances before cleaning or repairing.
- Use extension cords only for short-term purposes, and make sure the cord is adequately suited for the amount of electricity it will be transferring.
- Turn off and unplug all portable electrical appliances, like hairdryers, irons and shavers, when you’re finished using them.
- Be familiar with the location of your breaker box and make sure the switches are clearly labeled so you can shut off electricity quickly in the event of an emergency.
- Teach children never to put their fingers in electrical outlets and appliances.
- Keep appliances and cords away from children and use plug covers in outlets.
Outside the Home:
- If there is a downed power line nearby, leave the area immediately and notify your cooperative or call 911. If others are around, let them know that they need to stay away.
- Teach children to stay away from power lines and substations and make sure they can recognize “Danger-High Voltage” signs.
- Never use electrical equipment near any wet areas, such as pools or ponds.
- Remember, electricity looks for the shortest, most direct path to ground. A ladder, pole or even a wet kite string touching a power line will give electricity a new, shorter path and if you are holding one of these items, you could become a part of that path.
- “Call Before You Dig.” Dial 811 before starting a digging project, and workers will be sent to your home to mark utility lines in your yard. This service is free, and it has the potential to save your life.