Raleigh, N.C. —The sun’s warmth and the season’s longer days lure Americans into one of the most dangerous areas of their household – the garden. Unfortunately, the therapy and meditation that occurs once the hand touches topsoil can also clear the mind of common safety sense. This is how dangerous a little gardening can be. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 145,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries each year by garden tools. Yep, garden tools, most of them electric.
Since May is electric safety month, what better time to arm ourselves with safety advice from the folks at North Carolina’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives? Before you head out to the lawn and garden, take a few minutes to take heed of these practical safety tips.
- First, let’s address the biggest danger, electrocution due to the inadvertent striking of an underground utility line. Before you place the shovel in the ground, know where underground utility lines are buried on your property. Call the North Carolina One-Call Center at 1-800-632-4949 or your local utility company. The One-Call Center will locate your underground utility lines and mark them for you within 48 hours. This may be the most important call you may ever make because when struck, gas lines may explode, telephone service can be disrupted, and severed electrical lines can electrocute. Call before you dig to prevent serious and possibly deadly accidents.
- Electrical outdoor tools should never be operated in the rain or in wet conditions. That may seem obvious, but unfortunately it’s a tip that’s often ignored.
- Here’s one that’s often overlooked – dress. Clothing is a vital safety tool. Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, eye protection and use heavy gloves. Don’t wear baggy clothes, jewelry or anything that can possibly get tangled in a power tool.
- Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or a riding lawn mower. Keep children indoors and supervised when outdoor power equipment is being used.
- Unplug electrical tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gasoline-powered tools before touching any moving parts on the machines.
- Handle gas carefully. Never fill a gasoline tank while the machine is on or when it is still hot.
- Store garden equipment where it will not injure anyone, especially children. If a kid can reach it, they can also hurt themselves.
- Make sure extension cords are rated for outdoor use and are in good condition.
- Inspect power tools and your lawn mower and other lawn and garden equipment for frayed cords, broken plugs, etc.
- Before using any appliance or tool, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check the switch on a power tool or garden appliance to make sure it’s “OFF” before you plug it in.
- Never carry a power tool by the cord, and never yank it when unplugging it from a receptacle. When disconnecting the cord, always grasp the plug- not the wire. Keep the cord away from heat, oil and sharp edges.
By practicing these tips, you’ll ensure your lawn and garden is a place of safety as well as beauty. For more everyday electric safety tips, contact Jane Pritchard at firstname.lastname@example.org