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: Downed Power Lines

Imagine this scenario: You’re driving in your neighborhood and BAM! another car crashes into a utility pole. In an instant, the pole crashes onto your vehicle.

What would you do?

Now, it may seem like an unlikely scenario, but it can happen. In fact, it happened to a teenager in Ohio last month (click here to watch their amazing story!) Odds are, you may not be sure what to do if you see a downed wire on the ground. Thankfully, we have a few tips for you.

Tip: If you find yourself near a downed power line, don’t walk or run…SHUFFLE! Keep your feet together and move at least 20 feet away. If a downed power line falls on your car, stay inside and call 911. Check out the video below featuring City Light’s own Ed Hill from Seattle Channel’s City Stream for a demonstration of how to do the Downed Wire Shuffle.

Remember:

Never touch or approach a downed wire or anything in contact with the wire.

Safeguarding Skagit: Inside the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade

City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project provides clean and efficient energy to Seattle’s customers, and its idyllic location provides spectacular, Instagram-worthy views of the North Cascades and Diablo Lake. Being nestled in such a remote location does have its advantages, but it can also provide its share of challenges when minutes count. During an emergency—whether someone has a bump or bruise during a dam tour or is involved in a serious traffic accident on the North Cascades Highway—a team of City Light employees take action, changing from their daily roles at the utility to act as members of the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade.

For almost 60 years, this mostly volunteer group of first responders has gone above and beyond their assigned work duties at City Light to safeguard the residents and property of City Light, the Skagit Project and the North Cascades National Park. Fire Brigade Chief Cody Watson explains “the brigade fights fires and provides an emergency response like a typical fire department would; there are situations that require backup.” That’s why in 2008, a specialized group called the Skagit Technical Response Team (STRT) was created to supplement the brigade and provide aid during unusual rescue situations. Like the brigade, STRT is a team of City Light employees who are trained beyond their day-to-day skills.

In 2016, the brigade was crucial to the containment of the Goodell Creek Fire, which severely threatened the Skagit Hydroelectric Project and the surrounding communities. For Watson, an emergency of any size is important because of the brigade’s local impact.

“We have helped friends, family, co-workers and strangers who are often having the worst day of their lives,” says Watson. “The brigade provides services that no one else in this geographical area can. When the fire alarm goes off, they have to switch gears and put on a different hat. We have a pretty extraordinary team up here.”

Last November, the fire brigade added a new vehicle to their fleet, a state-of-the-art ambulance. The new vehicle replaced a unit that had been in service for nearly 25 years. Watson and the brigade worked closely with the City Light Fleet and Mobile Equipment team to build a unit that meets their unique needs. Some of the unique features include snow chains that engage with a flip of a switch, a hydraulic lift and cabin airbags to protect first responders when treating a patient.

Thank you, Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade, for keeping the City Light employees and its visitors safe!

 

Experience the majestic beauty of the North Cascades next summer on a Skagit Tour. Skagit Tours provide a fun and educational experience for people of all ages. Visit https://www.seattle.gov/light/damtours/skagit.asp for more information!

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

In case you haven’t heard, the National Weather Service predicts that the Puget Sound is in for a heavy dose of winter weather this weekend. With a chance of our region experiencing frozen fractals all around, now is the time to prepare in case your neighborhood experiences a power outage.

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, repairs can take hours, and significant events can take even days. Here are some tips to help you be prepared and stay safe during a winter outage:

 

  • Report the Outage – If you experience an outage, please report it by calling City Light’s 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.

 

  • 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.

 

  • 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 if 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 is safe for 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 include 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.

 

If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000.

Don’t forget to visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following us on  Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on how to prepare for this winter’s weather, visit takewinterbystorm.org/.