While summertime is associated with climbing trees, flying kites, yard work and water activities, it is important to stay clear of power lines and other equipment when outside – and remind children to do the same – to help stay safe. Keep in mind the following when playing or working outdoors:
• Before letting children climb trees, do a thorough inspection to ensure no electric lines are nearby.
• Keep children away from fenced in electrical substations and other equipment, such as pad-mount transformers, with posted warning signs.
• Never let children fly kites, motorized airplanes or drones near power lines. While kites almost always use cotton string, wet cotton string can conduct electricity almost as well as metal string. If a kite gets stuck in a tree, check first to make sure no power lines are nearby before retrieving it. If a kite is tangled in a power line call one of our toll-free customer service numbers.
• Properly secure Mylar balloons when outside. Because they have a metallic-based coating, these balloons conduct electricity and can cause outages if they fly into power lines.
• If you have electrical connections near a pool, boat dock or other areas in close proximity to water, be sure to have the equipment and connections inspected annually by a qualified electrician to help ensure safe operations.
• When hauling a boat, make sure it clears overhead power lines and stay away from power lines when sailing.
• Don’t shoot at or otherwise damage insulators on utility poles. This is very dangerous and against the law. Insulators keep electricity from traveling down the pole. If an insulator is broken off or damaged, anyone coming in contact with the pole could be injured.
If summer storms result in downed wires it is important to avoid the area and immediately call FirstEnergy. If you see a downed power line, always assume it is live and dangerous and follow these steps. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 1-888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877). Extra caution should be exercised in areas where downed wires may be tangled in downed tree branches or other debris.
Guidelines for Working Outside and Operating Power Tools
• When using a ladder, or going up on roofs or elevated outdoor balconies, stay clear of nearby electric lines.
• Know where power lines are when using pool skimmers, pole-mounted tree trimmers or other tools with long handles.
• When using outdoor electrical appliances such as hedge trimmers or edgers, wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes or boots. Never go barefoot.
• Never use electric tools or mowers in wet areas.
• Read the tool’s instructions, especially all safety warnings, before use.
• Plug the cord into a three-prong outlet on a three-conductor circuit. This provides the added safety of the neutral-to-ground connection provided by the third wire.
• Inspect the tool after each use, and keep it in good working order. Replace or repair worn or defective equipment immediately.
• Never use a power tool around flammable liquids such as gasoline or solvents.
• Keep the work area clean of sawdust, shavings or anything else that could pose a fire hazard.
• Customers serviced by underground power lines should be aware of landscaping clearance and other guidelines before working around our equipment.
• Special care should be given when working with outdoor lighting to prevent injury or potential hazards, especially in wet conditions. All outdoor outlets, lighting fixtures and bulbs should be weatherproof and protected by ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers.
• Don’t forget to turn off outdoor circuits before replacing bulbs or adjusting outdoor lighting.
Guidelines for Extension Cords
• When using power tools outdoors, use a heavy-duty, weather resistant extension cord.
• Check extension cords occasionally for signs of wear or damage. Replace damaged cords promptly.
• Avoid using extension cords whenever possible. But if needed, use the right size cord for the job. Do not exceed the cord’s recommended rating.
• Do not string a series of extension cords together.
• Never use an extension cord as a permanent substitute for adequate, safe wiring.
• Unplug a cord from a wall outlet when not in use. When unplugging a cord, pull on the plug not the cord.
“Electricity allows our customers to enjoy many activities, but it is important to remember that there are any number of summertime activities that can present unexpected hazards near utility lines,” said David J. Karafa, vice president of distribution support for FirstEnergy. “Knowing where our equipment is and taking steps to avoid contacting it is the best way to prevent mishaps.” FirstEnergy also has safety tips for contractors available at: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/working/contractors.html
For updated company information, including safety and hot weather tips, go visit the 24/7 Power Center www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.