DEADLY RISKS: ELECTRICITY & METAL THEFT
Thieves are risking their lives — and possibly the lives of co-op employees — when they steal from the cooperative. A down economy has lead to a rise in thefts of both electricity and copper, which is used in electrical wiring.
Consumers who attempt to reconnect electric service by themselves or tamper with a meter to avoid recording electricity usage risk electrocution, leading to death or serious injuries. Power theft can also result in fires that harm others and unsafe equipment that can injure cooperative employees.
Thieves looking for “easy money” cut through substation fencing to take copper reels, and copper products have been stolen from the co-op’s trucks, transformers, work sites and storage facilities. They sell the metal to scrap dealers for profit.
When copper wiring is stripped from electric lines, transformers and power stations, the thieves tamper with power poles and create a potentially dangerous situation for co-op linemen and themselves. Substation intruders have been electrocuted while attempting to steal copper.
Here’s how you can help prevent injury or death resulting from theft:
- If you suspect someone is stealing power or creating an unsafe situation, report it to Carroll EMC anonymously at 770-830-5770 or via email at email@example.com.
- Report any unusual activity in or around substations, towers, utility poles, storage sites and other electric utility property by immediately contacting your local law enforcement agency.
- Never climb substation fences, utility poles or towers. Stay away from substations and transformers.
Electricity and water are two essentials, but they do not mix! Especially during the summertime, we spend a lot of time near water whether at the pool or lake. Since these areas mean wet skin and wet surfaces, the chance of electrocution or shock increases when electricity is present (i.e. underwater lights, extension and power cords, electrical outlets or switches, electrical equipment and overhead powerlines).
To keep boaters and swimmers as safe as possible, be sure to have the electrical system inspected, repaired and upgraded to local and National Electrical Code by a licensed contractor.
YOUTH SAFETY PROGRAMS
Electrical safety is a priority for Carroll EMC. As a community service, the cooperative offers complimentary high voltage safety demonstrations. Presentations are available for schools, churches or civic groups, as well as for safety departments or during community events. Youth programs teach children how to play it safe around electric power lines, reducing the risk of electrical incidents and preventing tragic accidents. Adult programs feature live demonstrations of the hazards of contact with power lines and practical safety tips for avoiding dangerous situations.
To schedule a demonstration, contact Rolando Benitez at 770-830-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUTSIDE ELECTRICAL SAFETY
Review these safety rules and teach your children how to stay safe around electricity outdoors.
Never tamper with your electric meter, as it is illegal and you could risk shock, explosion or fire.
- Consider any electrical line dangerous.
- Stay away and keep others back from fallen power lines (including telephone and cable TV lines). Always assume the line is energized and extremely dangerous. If you see a downed line, call Carroll EMC immediately at 770-832-3552.
- Never touch a person or object (such as a tree) in contact with a power line. Do not attempt to move the power line. Call 911 immediately.
- Do not drive a car underneath low hanging power lines or over downed power lines. If your car comes in contact with power lines, stay in the vehicle until emergency or utility personnel arrive to help. If the vehicle is on fire or otherwise too dangerous to stay inside, exit it by standing on the doorframe and jumping clear.
- When working outside, look up. Never use machinery or ladders underneath power lines without at least 10 feet of clearance.
- Keep clear of any electrical lines when making home improvements such as roofing, painting, or replacing siding. Contact Carroll EMC at 770-832-3552 if you need to perform any work around these lines.
- Use extreme caution on rooftops. Take care to stay away from power lines when working with antennas or other objects.
- Do not allow children to play on utility poles or guy wires, or climb trees in proximity to overhead power lines.
- Never attempt to remove kites, tree limbs or any other object from any power lines. Contact Carroll EMC to remove the object safely.
- Don’t build anything or plant trees under overhead power lines.
- Call the Utilities Protection Center (811) before you do any type of digging or work adjacent to underground or overhead power lines.
When you see Carroll EMC crews and equipment along roadsides, slow down and proceed with care.
Underground Electrical Transformers
- Never allow children to play on electrical underground pad-mounted transformers (green boxes marked “Caution: High Voltage”).
- Never attempt to open the lid or doors of any underground enclosure.
- If you notice a damaged or unlocked pad-mount transformer, call Carroll EMC at 770-832-3552.
- Never plant shrubs or flowers around a transformer. Leave clear access to the unit for utility workers.
A household generator can supply electricity to your home during a power outage. This allows continued use of essential appliances such as heating and cooling systems, refrigerators and lights. But if a portable generator is used improperly, you or a Carroll EMC line worker could face serious injury or death.
Follow these safety guidelines suggested by Georgia EMC to avoid the dangers of operating this equipment during electric service interruptions:
- Read all instructions carefully and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Never run your generator in doors or in your garage. Generators should only be run in a well-ventilated area. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly if there is not adequate ventilation.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy duty, properly grounded extension cords.
- Make sure extension cords are not frayed or worn.
- Limit the electrical load placed on the generator to no more than the recommended wattage.
- Do not connect your power generator directly to your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel.
- Use the generator only when necessary.
- Turn the generator off at night while you sleep and when you are away from home.
- Never plug a generator into any part of the house. Doing so may feed electricity out of the house to power lines outside your home, causing serious injury or death to an EMC employee who is working on downed lines or a member of the public who comes into contact with a downed power line.
If you have any questions about how to properly use a portable electric generator, contact the manufacturer, a licensed electrician or Carroll EMC at (770) 832-3552.
ELECTRICAL FIRE PROTECTION
Electrical equipment is a leading cause of home fires and fire-related deaths in the United States.
To keep you and your family safe:
- Always buy appliances that have been rated by independent laboratories such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories).
- Avoid overloading outlets.
- If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
- Make sure cords are in good condition. Never nail or staple cords. Do not place cords under rugs or furniture.
- If possible, avoid using extension cords or use them only on a temporary basis. Use an extension cord with a higher rating than the appliance you’re using it for. Check extension cords frequently for wear. Replace cracked or worn cords with new cords displaying a certification label from an independent testing lab such as UL or ETL on the package and attached to the cord near the plug.
- Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) of a three-prong plug to make it fit a two-prong outlet.
- Don’t use higher-wattage bulbs than recommended by the manufacturer in lamps and ceiling fixtures.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from combustible materials such as furniture, draperies and rugs. Don’t use them in rooms where children are unsupervised. Unplug space heaters when you’re not using them. Avoid using space heaters with extension cords; if you must use an extension cord, use a heavy-gauge cord.
- Don’t just turn a circuit breaker back on or replace a blown fuse — it could create a fire hazard. Find out what caused the breaker or fuse to cut off first.
- Because halogen floor lamps operate at much higher temperatures than lamps with standard bulbs, they’ve been implicated in a number of fires. Never place a halogen floor lamp where it could come in contact with draperies or other combustible materials. Be sure to turn the lamp off whenever you leave the room and never use these lamps in children’s rooms.
HOME ELECTRICAL SAFETY
Electricity is a powerful force in all our lives. But because it is so powerful, it’s important that extra care is taken when using it. Learn how to prevent and avoid electrical hazards to stay safe at home.
If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or if it has given you a shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Don’t leave plugged-in appliances where they might make contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, DO NOT pull it out — even if it’s switched off. First turn off the power source at the panel board and then unplug the appliance. Do not use an appliance that has been wet until it is checked by a qualified repair person.
Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size current rating for their circuit. If you do not know the correct size, have an electrician identify and label the size to be used. Always replace a fuse with the correctly specified size fuse. If you are having trouble with overloading circuits, an electrical inspection is recommended. Learn about electrical inspections.
Cords should be in good condition — not frayed or cracked — and placed out of traffic areas. Do not nail or staple cords to the wall, baseboard or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
During an electrical storm, do not use appliances (i.e., hairdryers, toasters and radios) or telephones (except in an emergency). Do not take a bath or shower; keep batteries on hand for flashlights and radios in case of a power outage; and use surge protectors on electronic devices, appliances, phones, fax machines and modems.
Check equipment for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs and connectors. Use only equipment that is in good condition and working properly. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
Do not overload cords. Use extension cords only on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring. Cords should have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.
Never use water to douse an electrical fire, use the appropriate type of fire extinguisher. Learn how to prevent electrical fires by visiting the Electrical Fire Protection tab.
Improperly installed generators can cause serious injury or death for electric utility workers. Learn about generator safety in the Generator Safety tab.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
- Use GFCIs in any area where water and electricity may come into contact.
- Test GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer’s instructions and after major electrical storms to assure they are working properly.
- Replace all GFCIs that are not working properly, but never replace a GFCI with a standard non-GFCI outlet or circuit breaker.
- Do not use any appliance or device that trips a GFCI.
- Should not be used on a non GFCI-protected circuit; instead, replace the appliance or take it to an authorized repair center to be checked for faulty wiring.
Ensure light bulbs are the proper wattage for each lighting fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.
Outdoor Equipment and Tools
Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers for worn or exposed wiring, cracks or broken housing. If any part is damaged, discontinue use immediately. Repair or replace damaged items. Do not use electric-powered mowers or other equipment in rain or wet conditions. Use an extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of the equipment. Unplug all portable power tools when not in use.
Outlets with loose-fitting plugs can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Use safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.
Plugs should securely fit in outlets. Do not force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
Keep any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs at least 3 feet from heater. Avoid using extension cords; plug directly into an outlet on a relatively unburdened circuit. Never leave heater unattended and do not use in rooms where children are unsupervised. Turn off and unplug the heater when not in use. Buy only Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approved heaters equipped with tip-over safety switches.
Rewiring a home or farm building, adding circuits or upgrading systems are jobs for a qualified, professional electrician. All wiring must meet the minimum standards of the National Electrical Code. If you elect to perform such work, read the Electrical Safety Workbook first.