Summertime Safety

Stay Safe Around Electricity: Look Up! Look Down! Look Out!

As warm weather returns and you head outdoors for gardening and building projects or just to have fun, keep these outdoor electrical safety tips in mind.

Look Up! Overhead Power Lines

Keep your Distance
Electricity can jump, and often does when a potential conductor like a metal ladder comes within a certain proximity. When using ladders (even wooden ones) and other long tools be sure to keep them at least 10 feet away from all overhead power lines, including the line from the power pole to your home. Also, don’t climb trees near electrical wires.

Birds can sit on wires, but you can’t!
Birds don’t get electrocuted when they land on wires because they don’t represent a path to ground. Electricity wants nothing more than to go to ground and will always take the easiest, most direct route. A ladder, pole or even a wet kite string touching or coming near a power line will give electricity a new path to ground. If you are in contact with those things as well, you may become part of the path and could be severely injured or electrocuted.

Kites & balloons
Kites, balloons and model airplanes that contact power lines can cause shock or fire, so keep them away from overhead power lines.

Look Down! Buried Power Lines

In many neighborhoods, NOVEC’s power lines are buried underground. Once the lines are covered with dirt and grass, you can’t tell exactly where they are located. To be sure that you don’t damage an underground line and potentially harm yourself, your family or friends, be sure to call Miss Utility at 1-800-552-7001 at least 48 hours before doing any digging in your yard. This free service ensures that all underground power lines in your yard are clearly marked so you can stay away from them when digging.

NOVEC routinely inspect pad-mounted transformers

Look Out! Electrical Equipment

Pad-mounted transformers
NOVEC’s electric distribution system includes pad-mounted transformers. When left alone, these metal enclosures are harmless. But children who play on or around them may accidentally break open the locks and doors, exposing themselves and others to danger. Also, never dig near transformer boxes. All transformers should have a warning label. If you ever find a transformer box that’s unlocked or open, call NOVEC.

There’s a lot of high-voltage electricity behind their fences, so stay out of substations. Remind children that if a ball or toy goes into a substation, they should tell an adult. Never try to retrieve the item from the substation yourself; call NOVEC at 703-335-0500.

Downed power lines
A downed power line can be dangerous even if it’s not sparking, so stay away from it and call 911 and NOVEC immediately. Everyone should treat every power line as if it were a "live" wire and dangerous. Stay away from the line while waiting for qualified personnel to arrive on the scene.

Review more topics about staying safe around electricity:

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