Don’t stick a fork in it: 3 tips for electrical safety


Don’t let yourself or your family be exposed to electrical hazards. | Stock photos

This story is brought to you by Idaho Falls Power, a municipal electric utility serving the corporate city limits of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Thousands of Americans are injured by electrical shock every year, with nearly seven kids going to the emergency room each day with injuries caused by electrical equipment. But it’s fairly easy to stay safe around electricity if you know how.

Here are three tips to protect yourself and your family from electrical shocks and injuries.

Look up!

While playing outdoors, remind youngsters to watch for power lines when flying kites or climbing trees.

Should you lose a ball or other toy inside a power facility or on a line, never climb a fence or attempt to retrieve it yourself! Call the power company, which can then safely retrieve it for you.

For adults, use a spotter when moving ladders, irrigation lines or operating a crane that could potentially make contact with power lines.

And if you come across downed power lines or damaged electrical equipment, stay back. Many lines are not fully insulated to prevent injury to people, so always assume lines are energized and dangerous.

What lies beneath?

Power lines aren’t just above ground.

If you need to dig, be aware of underground lines, even when using a shovel.

Idaho law requires you call 811 (Dig Line) at least two working days before you begin digging so they can mark the locations of underground lines and facilities – free of charge.

Even though they are above ground, pad transformers- –the green boxes installed in some residential yards — indicate underground power lines are present, and you should never played on dig around them.

Around the house

A ground fault circuit interrupter outlet.

While statistics show adults often suffer electrical injuries in an occupational setting, children are frequently injured at home.

Tamper-resistant receptacles are a great way to prevent injuries from electrical outlets, and homes built or remodeled after 2008 are required to have them installed.

If your home is not equipped with these receptacles, installing plastic outlet covers can help prevent young children from sticking fingers or objects into electrical outlets.

Teach your kids not to yank cords from outlets, and instead to pull on the plug when unplugging appliances.

It may seem obvious not to place metal objects in electrical appliances or to avoid electronic equipment when they are wet or standing in water, but children may not realize it as easily unless you tell them.

Another tip: Upgrade outlets to ground fault circuit interrupter outlets to prevent shock. These can sense if an electrical current is running through an unintended path, such as a person, and will shut off power.

Staying safe around electricity is not only important, but also easy.

With May being National Electricity Safety Month, it’s a great time to review these rules yourself, and with your children.

For more tips and information about electrical safety, call Idaho Falls Power at (208) 612-8430 or visit

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