If you’re taking advantage of time off during the holidays to tackle home remodeling, repairs, maintenance or landscaping projects, your electric cooperative urges you to keep safety in mind. Caution is particularly important when working around electrical equipment and overhead power lines.
Make sure outdoor outlets have ground-fault circuit interrupters. Use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets don’t have them. It’s also a good idea to have GFCIs professionally installed in wet areas of the home, such as the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room.
More safety tips to keep in mind:
Look up and around. Always be mindful of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders, pool skimmers and pruning poles, or when installing rooftop antennas or satellite dishes or doing roof repair work.
Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from wires, and never trim trees near power lines—leave that to the professionals. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines; also leave that to professionals.
Call the national underground utility locator at 811 before you begin projects that include digging, such as building a deck or planting a tree. Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. The locator service is free and can help you avoid inconvenience and serious injury.
Work in a well-lit area. Working during daylight will increase your ability to notice details in your project. If the area you are working in is not well lit, add lighting for adequate illumination.
Keep your work area tidy to avoid creating your own hazards. Don’t allow power cords to tangle. Pick up and properly store power tools, sharp tools or dangerous materials that might cause injury. Pull all nails from old lumber.
Have a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit and emergency numbers readily available. Hopefully you won’t need them, but if you do, having them close at hand could minimize damage.
Always check the condition of cords and power tools before using them. Repair or replace worn or damaged cords and tools.
Be sure to wear appropriate safety equipment, including gloves, earplugs and protective eyewear and shoes.
Utilize all safety features of your tools and make sure you know how to use a new tool before operating it. Trust the instructions, not your intuition.
Electricity + water = danger. If it’s raining or the ground is wet, don’t use electric power or yard tools. Never use electric appliances or touch circuit breakers or fuses when you’re wet or standing in water. Keep electric equipment at least 10 feet from wet areas.
Know when the project requires a professional. You know your own abilities. Knowing which projects you can handle yourself and which ones you should consult an expert for is not only important for safety but can also save you time and money.
Ensure home electrical systems and wiring are adequate to support increased electric demands of new appliances, home additions or remodeling projects. An older home may be inadequately wired for today’s electricity consumption, putting your family at risk for fire and electrical shock. Have a professional replace worn and outdated circuitry, and add outlets for appliances and electronics—not a job for casual do-it-yourselfers.