National Electrical Safety Month: Tips to keep you safe

Glenn Brown, Coordinator of safety and loss control

At Roanoke Electric Cooperative, we recognize Electrical Safety Month every May, but we also know the importance of practicing safety year-round.  From our co-op family to yours, we realize that everyone has a part to play in prioritizing safety.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, thousands of people in the U.S. are critically injured or electrocuted due to electrical fires and accidents in their own homes.  Many of these accidents are preventable.

Electricity is a necessity, and it powers our daily lives.  But we know first-hand how dangerous electricity can be because we work with it 365 days a year.

To me, safety is more than just a catchphrase.  As the safety and loss control coordinator, it's my responsibility to keep co-op employees safe.  Additionally, we want to help keep you and all members of our community safe.  That's why you'll see Roanoke hosting safety demonstrations at community events and in schools throughout the year, to demonstrate the dangers of electricity.  We discuss emergency scenarios, such as what to do in a car accident involving a utility pole and downed power lines.  We caution students on the dangers of pad-mounted transformers and overloading circuits with too many electronic devices.

Electricity is an integral part of modern life.  Given the prevalence of electrical devices, tools, and appliances, I'd like to pass along a few practical electrical safety tips.

  • Frayed wires pose a serious safety hazard. Power cords can become damaged or frayed from age, heavy use, or excessive current flow through the wiring.  If cords become frayed or cut, replace them, as they could cause a shock when handled.
  • Avoid overloading circuits. Circuits can only cope with a limited amount of electricity.  Overload happens when you draw more electricity than a circuit can safely handle––by having too many devices running on one circuit.
  • Label circuit breakers to understand the circuits in your home. Contact a qualified electrician if your home is more than 40 years old.  You'll need to install multiple large appliances that consume large amounts of electricity.
  • Use extension cords properly. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord.  If you "daisy chain" them together, it could lead to overheating, creating a potential fire hazard.  Don't exceed the wattage of the cord.  Doing so also risks overloading the cord and starting a fire hazard.  Extension cords should not be used as permanent solutions.  If you need additional outlets, contact a licensed electrician to help.

I encourage you to talk with your kids about playing it safe and smart around electricity.  Help them be aware of overhead power lines near where they play outdoors.

Our top priority is providing an uninterrupted energy supply 24/7, 365 days per year.  But equally important is keeping our community safe around electricity.