National Electrical Safety Month: Contact Voltage

For our last installment of National Electrical Safety Month, we would like to share a little bit about City Light’s own focus on safety and how it has evolved over the years. In 2010 and 2015, City Light experienced multiple safety incidents involving employees and the community. These incidents created a wake-up call within the utility, leading to actions built on innovation, agency, and listening. Last month, City Light’s dedication to improving its safety culture was the cover story in Northwest Public Power Association’s Bulletin magazine.

 

Click here to view the article. Enjoy! 

 

 

National Electrical Safety Month: Power Lines on Trees

 

Some would say that spring is simply the most delightful time of the year here in Seattle (and frankly, it’s hard to disagree!). As trees and shrubs begin to blossom, it may be tempting to go outside and start trimming. Before you break out the shears, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. We reached out to City Light’s arboriculturist and resident tree buff Heidi Narte for tips on how to keep your pines, maples and family safe around power lines.

 

Here are a few of Heidi’s handy safety tips:

  • Keep kids safe – make sure their play activities don’t include trees near power lines. Trees touching power lines may become energized, causing a dangerous situation for kids climbing in them, swinging in them or otherwise playing in them.

 

  • Heading out into your yard to prune trees and shrubs? Make sure you, your tools and the branches you want to prune are a safe distance from power lines. If the branches you’re pruning or your tools make contact with a power line, you could receive an electrical shock injury which can result in significant burns or even death. Branches, tools and you should be at least 10 feet from distribution power lines and 21 feet from high voltage transmission lines.

 

  • See a tree or branch touching a power line? Trees touching power lines may be energized and safety hazards. If you’re not sure whether a tree could cause an issue, give us a call and we’ll check it out!

 

If you have questions about power lines near trees, email SCLVegetation@seattle.gov or call (206) 386-1733 to check in with an arborist. For more information on how to keep your trees safe around power lines, check out the latest issue of Light Reading!

National Electrical Safety Month: Electric Shock Drowning

Faulty wiring in and around your home can have dangerous consequences. When it comes into contact with water, it can become deadly. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (EFSI), Electric Shock Drowning occurs when faulty wiring sends an electric current into the water. If someone is in the water, like inside a swimming pool, the current passes through the body, causing paralysis which could lead to drowning.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid electric shock drowning:

  • Locate and label all power switches to the pool, hot tub, spa equipment & lighting
  • Keep pools, hot tubs & spas 25 feet away from power lines
  • Hire a qualified electrician for wiring and repair work as well as annual inspections
  • Install Ground Fault Circuit Interpreters (commonly known as GFCI switches) on receptacles within 20 feet of water’s edge

EFSI recommends that if you see someone affected by Electric Shock Drowning, turn off the power sources and call 911. Do not enter the water.

For more information, check out ESFI’s infographic on the dangers of Electric Shock Drowning. 

 

National Electrical Safety Month: Overloaded Circuits

 

Did you know that 47,700 home fires in the U.S. are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions each year? From an outlet with too many plugs (remember that one scene in Christmas Vacation?) to a major appliance plugged into a power strip, overloaded circuits in your home can be dangerous.

Here are a few symptoms of an overloaded circuit:

  • Flickering, blinking or dimming lights
  • Blown fuses
  • Warm or discolored wall plates
  • Cracking, sizzling or buzzing from outlets
  • Burning odor coming from wall switches
  • Mild shock or tingle from appliances or switches

Thankfully, the Electrical Safety Foundation International has tips on how to prevent overloaded circuits, possibly reducing the risk of injury or property loss:

  • Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances.
  • All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Only plug one heat-producing appliance into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets for your needs. Be sure to have a qualified electrician inspect your home and add new outlets.
  • Remember, power strips only add additional outlets; they do not change the amount of power being received from the outlet.

For more information on how to avoid overloading your home, visit www.esfi.org/resource/don-t-overload-your-home-545.

How to Stay Safe and Warm During a Winter Power Outage

Power outages are never welcome occasions, but when they occur during cold winter weather they can go from an inconvenience to a safety hazard all too quickly. If you want to stay warm and safe during a winter outage, it’s best to be prepared!

When outages occur, City Light’s response prioritizes life safety first, followed by emergency services and then by repairs which will bring the largest number of customers back into service. In the event of widespread outages, storm damage can take hours to repair and large events can take days. Here are some tips to help you hunker down and stay safe during a winter outage:

  • Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready. It’s a good idea to keep external batteries charged too.
  • Report the Outage – If you experience an outage, please report it by calling the Seattle City Light Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.
  • Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.
  • Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
  • Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions.
  • Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.
  • Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.
  • Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.
  • Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
  • Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.