Electricity is a wonderful thing. But one thing we all need to think about when it comes to electricity is safety. We need to know how powerful and dangerous it can be. Contact with electricity can cause electrical shock, burns or even death. Electricity is all around us and we want you to know how to live with it safely.
Appliances and Light Fixtures
Unplug appliances when not in use. 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.
Check bulbs in light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage. Replace bulbs when wattage is higher 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.
Halogen Floor Lamps
Halogen floor lamps operate at higher temperatures than standard incandescent light bulbs. 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 never use them in children's bedrooms or playrooms.
Space heaters supply supplemental heat. Keep space heaters 3 feet away from any combustible material such as: bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs. Don't use a space heater in rooms where children are unsupervised. ALWAYS unplug when not in use.
- Electric-powered equipment should not be used in the rain, near sprinklers or hoses, on wet grass or wet ground.
- Inspect power tools and electric lawn tools before each use for frayed power cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housings. If damaged, stop using it immediately and repair 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.
- Make sure outdoor electrical outlets are grounded and have weather-proof covers. Install a GFCI to protect against shock.
- Since metal ladders conduct electricity, watch out for overhead wires and power lines.
Outlet Cords & Plug Safety
Check for outlets with loose-fitting plugs. These can overheat and lead to fire. Replace any missing or broken wall plates. Make sure to use safety covers on all unused outlets when accessible to children. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.
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. Plugs should fit securely into outlets.
Electrical cords should never be warm when in use. Be sure cords are in good condition - not frayed or cracked. 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 and place them outside of traffic areas.
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.
Power Line & Equipment Safety
- No one can tell if an electric wire is "off or on" simply by looking at it. Treat all unknown electrical wires as if they were energized and possibly dangerous.
- If you see a power line that is hanging low or lying on the ground, STAY AWAY! A line such as this can suddenly move.
- Do not play on or near pad-mounted transformer boxes. If you see one unlocked, report it to Minnesota Valley immediately. This is as dangerous as an overhead line being down and should be treated the same way.
- Do not touch an object or person who is touching a power line. CALL FOR HELP IMMEDIATELY.
- If you are in a vehicle that is touching a power line, stay inside and wait for help. If the vehicle starts on fire and you must get out, jump away from the vehicle, being sure not to touch the ground and vehicle at the same time.
- Look up before using a ladder or any other long object. If you are going to climb up into a tree, be very careful to never climb one that has power lines through or near the limbs. There is danger not only from actually touching the wires, but the wind or your weight can cause a limb to touch a wire, causing a danger of electrocution to anyone in or near the tree.
- NEVER climb a power pole for any reason.
- Do not go near electric power equipment such as substations, pad-mounted transformers, utility poles, power lines or electric meters.
- Never fly kites, balloons, model airplanes or other toys near power lines or in a storm. Look for an open area to fly them.
Call Minnesota Valley to untangle anything that gets snagged in power lines.
Surge Protectors & Circuit Breakers
Surge suppression devices should be installed on all sensitive electronic equipment in your home such as: entertainment systems, computers, etc. Surge suppressors protect equipment from possible power outages, brownouts or power surges. Minnesota Valley has several types of surge protectors available to members. We can help you choose the best possible surge protection device for your needs. For more information, please contact the Member Services Department at 320.269.2163 or 800.247.5051. We will be happy to help you get started on getting yourself covered.
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 & Electricity
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. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they are working properly.
Water and Electricity Don't Mix
Don't leave plugged-in appliances where they might come into contact with water. Never have something plugged in near a bathtub. 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 panelboard 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.