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We use electricity every day and in many ways. Although electricity provides us with many conveniences, don't forget to play it safe! Here are a few tips:

Near Power Lines
Downed power lines can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or even death. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage zone – and it could do that through your body. 

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from it and anything touching it. The ground around power lines may be energized. Call Central Hudson immediately and we'll take care of the problem.

  • Do not attempt to move a downed power line or anything else in contact with it by using an object such as a broom or stick. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth, can conduct electricity if even slightly wet.

  • You cannot tell whether or not a power line is energized just by looking at it. You should assume that all downed power lines are live.

  • The proper way to move away from the power line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock.

  • If you see someone who is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. Call 911 for help.

  • Be careful not to touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located.

  • Do not drive over downed power lines.

  • If your car comes in contact with a downed power line while you are inside, stay in the car. Honk your horn to summon help, but direct others to stay away from your car. Stay inside and wait for rescue crews. Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on the ground. If you do, you will become a path for electricity. In the event of a fire, jump clear from the car without touching the car and the ground at the same time; then shuffle away, keeping both feet on the ground at the same time, and taking care not to contact any wires or touch any object near the site of the accident.

  • When using ladders or poles, be aware of overhead electric lines, including the line that leads to the house. Even a wooden ladder can conduct electricity with fatal results. Be very careful if there are electric lines above or near a swimming pool and you are working with long-handled tools.

Source: Electric Safety Foundation International

Indoors
  • Some new, more powerful appliances may need their own separate circuit. You should have an electrician look at your wiring to ensure that it's up-to-date and safe!

  • Always buy UL-labeled appliances, wire, or other electrical supplies, and use power tools with three-pronged plugs.

  • Unplug any appliance while you are cleaning or repairing it, including jammed toasters and power tools. Also, be aware that some electronic devices, such as televisions and computers, may still pose a shock hazard, even when unplugged, as they often contain capacitors or other components that store electricity. Leave repairs of these devices to professionals!

  • Turn off appliances when you go out or when they are unattended, and unplug small appliances (hair dryers, toasters, etc.) when not in use.

  • Circuit breakers or fuses that trip often are usually a sign that a circuit is overloaded, an appliance is faulty, or that something is wrong. Call an electrician to troubleshoot the problem before someone receives a shock or the condition causes a fire.

  • Overheated electric cords or outlets are signs of inadequate wiring, either in the wall, on the appliance or both. Have the condition checked.

  • Keep outlets covered with plug-in plastic covers, and keep loose cords from "traffic" areas, especially when young children and pets are in the house. Show children to keep objects away from electric outlets.

  • Cords should be discarded if they show signs of wear or are cracked. Do not "patch" cords with tape, and never run any kind of electrical cord under rugs or too close to radiators, pipes, or heaters.

  • Don't overload outlets with too many devices, as they may overheat and cause a fire; and never unplug an appliance by pulling the cord.

  • Use the right cord for the job. Make sure it is rated for the appliance you're using. A warm cord is a sign it may not be sized properly.

  • Water and electricity don't mix! Never operate an electric appliance or device while standing in water, and do not allow electric cords to contact water. Be especially careful in bathrooms, kitchens, and near swimming pools and spas. Never use an electrically operated radio, television or hair dryer while taking a bath or swimming, as electrocution can occur if the electric appliance falls into the bathtub or pool. Also, never touch an electric cord or unplug an electric appliance when your hands are wet. Make sure appliances near sources of water are plugged into outlets with a "ground fault interrupter," or GFI outlet. These will shut off power to the socket in the event of a fault or short circuit in order to prevent a shock.

  • Scalding hot water can cause harm, especially to infants and the elderly. Prevent scalding by checking the temperature setting on water heaters and making an adjustment if set too high.

  • During lightning storms, stay indoors and turn off televisions, computers and other appliances.

Outdoors

  • Fallen wires can still be energized and dangerous. Stay away, and keep others away. Call Central Hudson immediately, and we'll take care of the problem.

  • Teach children the essentials of electric safety, and warn them to stay away from transmission towers, utility poles, substations, and fallen wires. Watch for electric lines near trees where children may climb, and teach children not to fly kites or model planes near electric lines or power facilities. Children should also be told to leave electric meters alone, and should not play near them.

  • When using ladders or poles, be aware of overhead electric lines, including the line that leads to the house. Even a wooden ladder can conduct electricity with fatal results. Be very careful if there are electric lines above or near a swimming pool and you are working with long-handled tools.

  • Never use electric power tools in the rain or when the ground is wet, and keep radios and televisions away from swimming pools, spas and running hoses.

  • Use only lights and cords rated for outdoor use, including decorative and holiday lights, and never put staples or nails through electric cords. A three-wire, waterproof cord should be used for power tools and outdoor work. Also, if using electric gutter heaters in the winter, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

  • Plug outdoor appliances into outlets with a "ground fault interrupter," or GFI outlet.

  • Use a qualified tree trimmer to do any pruning or perform other work in areas where limbs or vegetation are growing in and around overhead lines and other electrical facilities.

  • If a power line falls on your car, stay inside and wait for rescue crews. In the event of a fire, jump clear from the car without touching the car and the ground at the same time; then shuffle away, keeping both feet on the ground at the same time, and taking care not to contact any wires or touch any object near the site of the accident.

  • In placing holiday or other temporary lights outside, use only lights & cords rated for outdoor use. Using indoor lighting strands or an indoor extension cord outdoors can result in an electric shock or fire hazard. Check the cord's label to see if it is intended for outdoor use.

  • Although electricity provides us with many conveniences, don't forget to play it safe! Central Hudson technicians respond to a few calls every summer involving customers experiencing electric shock in or near their swimming pools. Swimming pool motors and filters must be properly grounded. Having them installed only by a licensed, professional electrician ― and checked regularly ― will help ensure safety. Remember, NEVER build a swimming pool, shed or any other structure beneath a power line or anywhere on a utility right-of-way, including the line that leads to your home or building.

  • Putting in a new garden or fence? Before digging or excavating, call the Dig Safely New York hotline at 1-800-962-7962, or dial 811, at least two but no more than 10 full working days in advance, so the location of all nearby utility services – gas, electric, and communications lines – can be made.

Generator Safety
When using electric generators during power interruptions, be sure that the unit is sized and installed properly, and operated safely and according to the manufacturer's instructions. Follow these common sense safety tips:

  • Generators should be sized to meet the needs of the appliances they are connected to. If too small, appliances can be damaged, and the generator can overheat, creating a fire hazard.

  • Plug appliances directly into the generator using a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is designed to handle the wattage of all the appliances being connected.

  • If a generator is connected to the home, have an experienced electrician install the unit using the proper switches and connections. Improperly installed generators may overload circuits, cause a fire or shock hazard, and can result in serious injury or property damage.

  • Generators connected to the home must also be installed so that electricity will not back-feed onto electric lines, which can endanger repair crews working to restore service. A disconnect switch should be professionally installed by an electrician.

  • Do not operate generators in an enclosed area, such as a garage or shed, as this may cause a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas. Generators should be operated in open areas, but also protected from water by being placed, for example, on a dry surface under a shelter to prevent electric shock. Also, be sure to shut off generators when refueling, and store generators in dry areas to prevent moisture damage.

Electrical Fires
Electrical fires can be caused by a variety of conditions, including overloaded circuits or outlets, frayed wires, faulty appliances, or overtaxed cords. In the event of an electrical fire:

  • Call the fire department, and notify them that it's an electrical fire.

  • Never use water to put out the flames, as that may cause serious shock. Use only an approved fire extinguisher, or leave the premises.

  • If possible, shut off the main breaker.

  • Be prepared for fires by installing smoke detectors, having fire extinguishers, updating and correcting any electrical problems, and holding fire drills periodically.

For Other Tips on Electric Safety
Visit the Kids Corner section of our website.

» National Electrical Safety Month Checklist

Other resources include the Electrical Safety Foundation International, which publishes booklets you can download as PDF files and Safe Electricity, a website providing information on electrical safety for kids, teachers, homeowners and contractors.