Electrical safety is important for your entire family
Safety is important for all ages. Click here to visit our special Kids Korner pages filled with safety and educational related games and interactivity.
We also encourage you to sign up for our free electric safety demonstration for your group. Each year, nearly 2,000 youth and adults throughout west central Ohio see our powerful display. Energized at 12,000 volts, this program packs a powerful and unforgettable lesson. Click here to sign up for a demonstration for your group.
- Always assume a fallen power line is energized and dangerous. Don’t touch the power line, and don’t touch anything the power line is touching.
- If you’re in a vehicle that is in contact with a downed line, stay in the vehicle. You’re safe, just like a bird on a wire – there’s no path for the current to the ground through you. If you step out, you’ll create the path and you’ll be electrocuted. Tell others to stay away from the vehicle.
- If you must leave the vehicle, jump out with both feet together and avoid making contact with the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
- Shuffle your feet to walk away from the fallen line. Don’t walk normally, by lifting your feet. Keep both feet always on the ground.
- If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with a downed line, don’t touch the person. You could become the next victim.
- Don’t attempt to move a downed power line (or anything it’s contacting) by using another object such as a broom or stick.
Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees, according to the National Electrical Safety Foundation. Christmas trees are involved in about 300 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 30 injuries and an average of more than $10 million in property loss and damage.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” It indicates the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it at least three feet away from fireplaces and radiators.
- Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
- Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways with the tree.
- Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards.
- Use only lights that have fused plugs.
- Never cut off the ground plug from a three-prong plug. The ground plug provides a safe path for errant electricity.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- When putting up lights and decorations outdoors, be aware of and stay away from overhead power lines.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
- Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights —they could unravel and inadvertently wrap around power lines.
- Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
This is a fact.
The severity of injury from electrical shock depends on the amount of electrical current and the length of time the current passes through the body. For example, 1/10 of an ampere (amp) of electricity going through the body for only 2 seconds is enough to cause death. The amount of internal current a person can withstand and still be able to control the muscles of the arm and hand can be less than 10 milliamperes (milliamps or mA or 1/1,000 amps). Currents above 10 mA can paralyze or “freeze” muscles. When this “freezing” happens, a person is no longer able to release a tool, wire, or other object. To put that amount of current flow into perspective, 15,000 milliamps (15 amps) is the lowest overcurrent at which a typical fuse or circuit breaker opens a circuit!
Usually, it takes about 30 mA of current to cause respiratory paralysis. Currents greater than 75 mA cause ventricular fibrillation (very rapid, ineffective heartbeat). Once started, this condition will cause death within a few minutes unless a special device called a defibrillator is used to save the victim. Heart paralysis occurs at four amps for even an instant of time, which means the heart does not pump at all. Tissue is burned with currents greater than five amps.
The path of the electrical current through the body affects the severity of the shock. Currents through the heart or nervous system are most dangerous. Only qualified personnel, such as trained electricians, should work on electrical circuits; and it is a good practice for them to hold one hand behind their back when the other hand is anywhere near an open electrical circuit. You do not want to create a current flow path that goes from one hand to the other across your heart.
Voltage level does come into play, but only with respect to current flow. People have stopped breathing when shocked with currents from voltages as low as 49 volts. Compare this to the tiniest “static electricity” spark at about 1,000 volts. Longer “car door sparks” and “doorknob sparks” can involve as much as 10,000 to 25,000 volts. While the spark will inflict some momentary pain, there is virtually no amperage flow and the shock is relatively harmless. However, electric circuits powered by your utility have the potential for large current flow. Higher voltage utility circuits, therefore, have increasing levels of lethal potential. A 480-volt circuit is more dangerous than a 120-volt circuit.