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. In April 2018, City Light’s dedication to improving its safety culture was featured in Northwest Public Power Association’s Bulletin magazine.
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 Asplund 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!
Check out this video about City Light’s Vegetation Management’s pruning program!
If you have questions about power lines near trees, email SCLVegetation@seattle.gov.
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.
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.