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For Electric Cooperative Members

New Tech Requires New Mindfulness

Every device powered by electricity calls for safety

When you think of electrical safety, what types of hazards come to mind? For many, the answer is likely to include an overloaded rat’s nest of extension cords like Clark Griswold uses to light up his home in the classic holiday comedy Christmas Vacation.

Others might think of the farmer who has a little “run-in” with a utility pole or live wire while operating heavy machinery.

Or perhaps you think of the careless do-it-yourselfer forgetting to look overhead when using a ladder to clean out the gutters.

Those are all good answers, and your electric cooperative has had plenty of experience dealing with them.

It can be tempting to look at these examples and think that’s where the safety conversation begins and ends, but there are safety considerations for every device powered by electricity. As technological advances make electricity increasingly prominent in our daily lives, our awareness of electrical safety also must grow.

Smartphones and Other Gadgets

When most people think of counterfeiting, they probably think of money or perhaps knockoff designer handbags. But it’s also big business for smartphones and accessories as well as other electronics.

These knockoffs aren’t just illegal and of inferior quality. They’re often dangerous, having never been tested for safety. How can you tell if your product is legit?

  • Use established vendors who purchase their goods from legitimate manufacturers.
  • Read the packaging and labels carefully. Text should be free of grammatical errors and not contain conflicting information.
  • Packaging should contain the name and contact information of the manufacturer.
  • Avoid unknown brands and products that do not display any brand affiliation.
  • Learn how to recognize certification marks from Underwriters Laboratories and other safety testing labs. Carefully inspect the products you buy for authentication marks.

In addition to counterfeits, consumers should be wary of deeply discounted off-brand chargers and other accessories. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles must be recharged, and those charging systems have certain electrical requirements. If you’re considering making the switch to an electric vehicle, you should start by ensuring your home’s electrical system is up to the task.

Once your charging station is installed and your shiny new car is parked in the driveway, follow these safety tips:

  • Carefully read the owner’s manual for your charging station upon installation and follow directions.
  • Never use an extension cord to charge the vehicle.
  • Inspect for damaged cords and plugs, which could result in shock and fire hazards.

Solar Panels

There are many factors that will determine if installing solar for your home or business makes sense. If, after carefully assessing your options, you determine that solar installation is the right choice for you, follow these safety tips:

  • Always hire a professional to install and repair solar panels. Specific licenses, qualifications and permits must be obtained to install solar equipment.
  • Solar power systems present unique safety challenges for firefighters. In the event of a fire, inform all officials of the use of solar panels and identify the type used.

With these tips in mind, you can enjoy new technologies without compromising electrical safety.