Print this checklist and make sure your home is electrically safe.
- Outlets: Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children. Learn about SCI’s Surge Suppression products for the entire home.
- Cords: Make sure cords are in good condition, not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboard or to another object. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
- Extension Cords: Check to see that the cords are not overloaded. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring. Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.
- Plugs: Make sure your plugs fit your outlets. 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. NEVER FORCE A PLUG INTO AN OUTLET IF IT DOESN'T FIT.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. When a GFCI senses current leakage in an electrical circuit, it assumes a ground fault has occurred. It then interrupts power fast enough to help prevent serious injury from electrical shock. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they are working properly.
- Light Bulbs: Check the wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended; if you don't know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer of the fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat. Find out more about CFLs.
- Circuit Breakers/Fuses: 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 same size fuse.
- Water and Electricity Don't Mix: Don't leave plugged-in appliances where they might come into contact with water. If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, NEVER reach in to pull it out—even if it's turned off. First turn off the power source at the panel board, and then unplug the appliance. If you have an appliance that has gotten wet, don't use it until it has been checked by a qualified repair person.
- Appliances: 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. Make an appointment for our Appliance Recycling program.
- Entertainment/Computer Equipment: Check to see that the equipment is in good condition and working properly; look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs, and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency.
- Outdoor Safety: Electric-powered mowers and other tools should not be used in the rain, on wet grass, or in wet conditions. Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers before each use for frayed power cords, broken plugs, and cracked or broken housings. If damaged, stop using it immediately. Repair it or replace it. Always use an extension cord marked for outdoor use and rated for the power needs of your tools. Remember to unplug all portable power tools when not in use. Since metal ladders conduct electricity, watch out for overhead wires and power lines.
- Lightning: During an electrical storm, do not use appliances (i.e. hairdryers, toasters, 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 and appliances.
- Space Heaters: Space heaters are meant to supply supplemental heat. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture, and rugs. Don't use in rooms where children are unsupervised, and remember to turn off and unplug when not in use.
- Halogen Floor Lamps: Halogen floor lamps operate at much higher temperatures than a standard incandescent light bulb. Never place a halogen floor lamp where it could come in contact with draperies, clothing or other combustible materials. Be sure to turn the lamp off whenever you leave the room for an extended period of time and don’t use floor lamps in children's bedrooms or playrooms.
- Trees: Planning on planting a tree? Look up! Don't dig that hole under a power line, or even near it. Remember that little seedlings will someday have big branches that can tangle in power lines. And if branches break in a windstorm or bend down in an ice storm, they can interrupt service for you and others on the line. Check out our Vegetation Management page for tips on tree planting, as well as a list of “safe” trees.
- Air Leaks: Caulking and weather stripping work well for stopping drafts that you feel near your windows and doors during winter. Caulking is for any stationary joint and weather stripping is for the moving joints of doors and windows. Contact the SCI REMC Energy Advisor today.
- Moisture: Too much moisture in a home can lead to mold, mildew, and other biological growth. This in turn can lead to a variety of health problems ranging from more common allergic reactions, to asthma attacks and hypersensitivity pneumonitits, for example. The foundation to the roof should be designed to not only prevent moisture entry, but also to allow any moisture which does enter to escape. People and their activities in a home are big sources of moisture and proper ventilation is important. Excess moisture can be caused by humidity generated by people and their activities such as showers, cooking or drying clothes. Water can also come from plumbing leaks, wet boots and clothing, or splashing around sinks. Moisture can travel with infiltrating outdoor air through walls or the foundation. In addition to health problems, high relative humidity or water that enters building cavities that is not allowed to dry quickly can lead to rot, structural damage and premature paint failure.
Downed Power Lines
Car accidents are one of the main causes of downed power lines. Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or possibly death. Assume that any downed line you see is an energized power line, and report it immediately to the police, fire department and SCI REMC.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe around downed power lines:
- If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it. The ground around power lines—up to 35 feet away—may be energized.
- You cannot tell whether or not a power line is energized just by looking at it. You should assume that all downed power lines are live.
- The proper way to move away from the power line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.
- If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. You could become the next victim. Call 911 for help.
- Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using an object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, can conduct electricity if even slightly wet.
- Be careful not to touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located.
- Do not drive over downed power lines.
- If your car comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car. Honk your horn to summon help, but direct others to stay away from your car.
- If you must leave your car because it is on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid contact with both the car and the ground at the same time. Shuffle away from the car.