Indoor and Outdoor Safety Tips
Indoor Safety Tips
Here are some safety tips for appliances, electrical fires, electrical outlets and wiring, extension cords, and space heaters.
Outdoor Safety Tips
Here are some tips for boat and dockside safety, calling before you dig safety, generator safety, landscaping safety, and outdoor workplace safety.
• Keep appliances clean and well-maintained. A buildup of dust, trash, or spider webs is an invitation for fire to start in the electrical system.
• Unplug any appliance before working on it.
• Keep electric appliances away from water.
• Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in areas that are exposed to water.
• Avoid adding extra plugs in attachments which could overload outlets or extension cords.
• Examine electrical cords to make sure they aren’t frayed, damaged, or placed under rugs or carpets.
• Replace worn or damaged cords.
• Do not touch any electrical appliance if you are standing in water.
• Unplug irons before leaving them unattended.
• Do not place anything on top of an appliance that uses its own cooling system (TV, computer, DVD player, game console). This can cause overheating of the appliance. It could even cause a fire.
• Never use water on electrical fires, equipment, or wires. Because water conducts electricity, dousing water on an electrical fire can cause the fire to intensify.
• If an appliance is on fire, unplug it, or cut the power at the control panel if possible.
• If the fire is small, use baking soda or a multipurpose or dry chemical fire extinguisher.
• Always have smoke alarms installed throughout your home. Check and change the batteries regularly.
• Have fire extinguishers handy to put out small fires. Keep in an easy to access spot and away from exits.
• Prepare and practice a home fire escape plan with your family.
• Above all, keep your personal safety in mind during an appliance fire. Call 911 and get out of the building if the fire cannot be quickly extinguished.
• Look for the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL®) mark on all-electric products you use. This indicates the product has met strict electrical standards.
• Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) should be installed anywhere water is present, including bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, or where easy ground contact can be made, like in garages, basements, and outdoor areas. If you do not have GFCIs installed in these areas, contact a certified electrician.
• Be familiar with fuses and breakers for the circuits in your home. If an electrical device blows a fuse, trips a breaker, releases sparks, sounds, or smells like it’s burning, disconnect it immediately. Dispose of the appliance or have it repaired. If you are unsure about any equipment, contact a certified electrician.
• Make sure that plugs fit nicely into outlets. Loose-fitting plugs or plugs that do not fit may overheat and cause a fire.
• Do not allow any electrical wiring to be exposed - be sure that all switch and outlet covers fit over the wires.
• Place safety covers in outlets that are not being used and keep cords tucked away so that children do not play with them.
• Do not overload any electrical supply, such as an extension cord, power strip, or outlet. When cords overheat, they can deteriorate and cause possible shock or fire.
• When not in use, unplug all non-essential electrical appliances. You not only reduce safety risk, but you will also save energy and money in the long run!
• Extension cords are meant to be temporary. Avoid using extension cords over extended periods of time.
• Do not connect several extension cords together. This can lead to overheating and sparking.
• Use only three-wire extension cords for appliances with three-prong plugs. Never remove the third (round or U-shaped) prong, which is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of shock and electrocution.
• Do not put extension cords in places where they may get pinched, such as under doors or windows.
• When using extension cords across doorways or heavy traffic areas, make sure they are taped to the floor securely so that you do not trip or fall on them.
• Do not staple or nail extension cords. You might damage the insulation made to protect you from the current and potentially expose a wire that may cause sparking or shocks.
• Know how much your extension cord can handle. If you plug in more than one high-wattage appliance into an extension cord, it may overheat. To find out the wattage on your appliance, read the manual or check the appliance for a label.
• Never use an indoor extension cord outdoors - it could result in an electrical shock or hazard.
• Use special, heavy-duty extension cords for high-wattage appliances, like air conditioners, portable electric heaters, and freezers.
• Make sure extension cords are connected to Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets, especially around water.
• Never unplug an extension cord by pulling on the cord. Always unplug by firmly grasping the plug.
• Use space heaters to provide supplemental heat only.
• Select equipment that has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL®) mark.
• Keep anything that may burn at least 3 feet away from space heaters.
• Do not use them to thaw pipes or dry clothing.
• Be sure to turn off space heaters when leaving a room or going to sleep.
• Use space heaters with an automatic shut-off feature and heating element guards.
• Watch children and pets at all times when around a space heater. Even the slightest contact with a heating coil or element will cause a severe burn.
• Check your space heater for frayed or broken wiring.
• Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. Extension cords can easily overheat when used with a space heater.
• Keep your space heater cord away from high-traffic areas in your home. Tripping on or knocking over the heater can cause an injury or even a fire.
Be aware of your surroundings and potential electrical hazards in or near water. Check the location of nearby power lines and electrical wires above and below the water before boating, fishing, or swimming. Always maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between your boat and nearby power lines.
• Don’t allow yourself or anyone else to swim near the dock. Avoid entering the water when launching or loading your boat. Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water, causing water electrification.
• If you feel a tingle while swimming, the water may be electrified. Get out of the water as soon as possible avoiding the use of metal objects such as ladders. Notify the owner of the property immediately, as this tingle is a sign that power to the facility should be turned off until a proper inspection has been completed.
• Have your boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician regularly to be sure they meet your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety code and standards.
• Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installed on your boat and insist that marina/dock owners have them installed on the dock. Test them once a month.
• Use “UL- Marine Listed” portable GFCIs when using electricity near water. They will decrease the chances of shock or electrocution.
• Consider having Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCI) installed on boats to protect nearby swimmers from potential electricity leakage into the water surrounding your boat.
• Only use shore or marine power cords, plugs, receptacles, and extension cords that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or ETL SEMKO (ETL). They are specifically designed to keep you safe when using them near water.
When burying utilities underground, it’s important to know what’s below before you dig. Utilities, such as electric, gas, communications, water, and sewer, may be buried on your property. Contact with these utility service lines can lead to a serious injury, or even death.
Missouri has a law in place to protect the public, prevent electrical contact incidents and avoid utility service disruption. The Missouri Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention statute (RSMo Chapter 319 requires all persons who plan to dig to contact the Missouri One Call System at 800-344-7483, call 811, or complete a request online at www.mo1call.com. The request must be made at least 48 hours before digging.
Missouri One Call will then contact member utility companies, who will then go out and mark their underground facilities. When it is determined that markings are required, the locate request will be dispatched to a field locator who will locate and mark the excavation site with paint, stakes, or flags.
Missouri One Call member utilities mark their facilities according to specific guidelines and color codes. Here is an abbreviated reference:
• Red: Electricity
• Yellow: Gas
• Orange: Communication
• Blue: Potable water
• Purple: Reclaimed water, irrigation
• Green: Sewers
• Fluorescent Pink: Temporary survey markings
• White: Proposed excavation
Upon agreement of the excavator and the facility owner, locates may be provided by alternative means such as an on-site meeting or other conferences. Either party may request an on-site meeting to clarify markings, which must occur within two working days of the request for this meeting.
Safe digging is everyone’s responsibility. Notify Missouri One Call to help prevent damages that may result in fines, utility service interruption, and injury or even death. To learn more about digging safely visit: www.mo1call.com.
• Before you use a portable generator, thoroughly read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid dangerous shortcuts and ensure the safe operation of your generator.
• Do not wire your generator directly to your breaker panel or fuse box. The power you generate may flow back or “back feed” into power lines and cause severe injuries, or even kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power. If you seek a more permanent generator installation, hire a licensed electrician to connect the generator to your house wiring using a transfer switch. This can prevent generator back-feed that endangers others, and prevent damage to your generator and appliances when utility power is restored.
• Set up the generator outdoors, away from all open windows — including neighbors’ windows — to prevent deadly exhaust from entering a home or business. Consider using a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm to be alerted if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous.
• Connect appliances directly to the generator. If any connected appliance has a three-prong plug, always use a three-prong extension cord. Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
• Use heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use to operate the generator safely outdoors.
• Don't touch a generator if you are wet or are standing in water or on damp ground.
• Never refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
• Ensure you have plenty of gas for operation. Store it in a safe location in appropriate gas containers.
• Don’t leave a running generator unattended; turn it off at night and when away from home.
To learn more about generator safety visit: safeelectricity.org.
• Always assume power lines are live. This applies to power lines on utility poles, as well as those near homes and buildings. Even though you may notice a covering on a line, never assume it is safe to touch. Even momentary contact with power lines can cause injury or death.
• Keep all cranes, scaffolding, and high reaching equipment away from power lines. Contact with a power line can cause serious burns or electrocution. Remember to work a safe distance from all power lines. Before any excavation activity, make sure to call before you dig so underground lines can be marked.
• When performing construction activities, keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines and 25 feet from transmission tower lines. Use a spotter to ensure compliance with the line clearance. If clearance cannot be obtained, contact CREC at 800-392-3709, ext. 4391 to de-energize the lines.
• Exercise precautions when using ladders or cleaning near a service drop.
• Be cautious around guy wires that support utility poles. Be careful not to run over or into them with equipment or vehicles.
• Keep yourself and others away from any downed power lines.
• Contact CREC at 800- 392-3709 if you see a downed power line.