We depend on electricity to power our everyday lives. It is such a part of our lives, however, that we often take it for granted. At Berkeley Electric Cooperative, our members' safety is a top priority whether it is at home or at work. We offer both tabletop and outdoor safety demonstrations for schools, civic organizations and first responders. To learn more or schedule a demonstration visit our Safety Demo page.
Also, be sure to check out our Everyday Safety Brochure for even more ways to stay safe while at work and at home.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 40,000 residential fires claim more than 350 lives annually. Electrical fires are most often attributed to problems with electric cords and plugs, lamps and light fixtures, and switches and outlets.
Help protect yourself and your family from electricity-related injuries.
Check your home electrical system for problems.
Avoid adding extra plugs in attachments which could overload outlets or extension cords.
Examine electrical cords to make sure they aren’t frayed, damaged or placed under rugs or carpets.
Use recommended wattage light bulbs in light fixtures and lamps.
Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in areas that are exposed to water.
One of the most important precautions you can take is to regularly test your smoke detectors and to replace smoke detector batteries annually.
Always follow appropriate safety precautions and manufacturer’s instructions.
Safety outside of your home may be as simple as understanding where some likely dangers exist. Here are a few of the most dangerous and easily preventable scenarios:
Always assume that utility lines are “live” – or energized – and keep far away from them. Be especially attentive after wind, ice or heavy thunderstorms when wires may have fallen to the ground. Call 911 first and always alert your local district office.
South Carolina law requires underground utilities to be located BEFORE anyone digs. Whether you are a contractor working on a site or a homeowner working around your own home, please note: digging can be dangerous if you don’t check first for underground wiring, cable or other underground utilities such as natural gas lines, water, or sewer lines.
Contact SC811 by dialing 811 at least three days before you plan to dig and they will locate underground utilities on your property.
Climbing/Playing on Electrical Equipment
Never let children climb a utility pole, a tower, or a tree near power lines. Kites or balloons that contact power lines can cause shock or fire, so fly them away from overhead lines. NEVER play on, sit on, or climb on electrical equipment of any kind. This includes the big, green boxes that may be located in your yard: Pad-Mounted Transformer Safety
Look up first! Ladders, regardless of what they’re made of, can become electrified if brought into contact with overhead electric wires. Wooden and metal ladders can conduct electricity. Keep this in mind and use extra caution when you, or your contractor, are using a ladder while working outside around your home.
Don’t use outdoor power tools – electric drill, hedge clipper, sander, electric mower – in the rain or while working with or on wet surfaces. Consider installing a ground fault interrupter on outside outlets.
Electric wires may be concealed in the trees or shrubs you want to trim. Before you trim trees or shrubs, inspect the area carefully to ensure that it’s clear of wires.
Berkeley Electric Cooperative has the right, within public or private rights-of-way and easements, to trim trees and otherwise remove obstructions that are in violation of National Electrical Safety Code requirements, or that may prohibit safe, efficient operation, or restrict safe access to electrical facilities. Trees are routinely trimmed around Berkeley Electric's overhead electric distribution lines as required and in compliance with industry pruning standards.
Please contact your local district office if you notice a tree which may be creating an electrical hazard.
Be sure electrical equipment for your swimming pool is grounded properly. If you’re installing a pool, have it inspected by your town’s electrical inspector when the job is completed. A ground fault interrupter should be installed on your pool’s electrical equipment. If a fault occurs in the equipment, the interrupter will instantly cut the power, preventing a serious electric shock. Do not have any plug-in appliances near the pool.
Antennas & Satellite Dishes
Before you work on a rooftop television or citizen’s band radio antenna or install a satellite dish, be sure the area is clear of power lines. Install these devices where they won’t touch or fall on electric lines.
Power lines carry high voltage electricity and can be deadly. Always assume that utility lines are “live” – or energized – and keep far away from them. Be especially attentive after wind, ice, or heavy snow storms when wires may have fallen to the ground.
If you happen to be in a vehicle and wires have fallen on or near it, stay in your vehicle and tell others not to touch the wires or the vehicle. Anyone on the ground who touches your vehicle could be in danger. If the vehicle is safe and is not on fire, stay in the vehicle until an emergency responder indicates it is safe to get out. If you must leave due to other hazards, jump clear of fallen lines. Don’t touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Land with feet together and take small, shuffling steps until farther away from the vehicle. Always call 911 in emergency situations.
Immediately report any fallen, low hanging, or smoking wires to Berkeley Electric Cooperative, the police, or fire department. We have dispatchers and line workers who are prepared and available 24 hours a day to help you.
Electrical substations contain extremely high-voltage equipment. Under no circumstances should members attempt to enter a substation as they will risk serious injury and possible electrocution. If members see a hazardous situation in, or around, one of Berkeley Electric Cooperative's substations they should immediately contact their local district office, the police or fire department.
If you are experiencing a life threatening situation, call 911.
Electric emergencies don’t often occur, but if they do, it is important to be ready. Knowing what to do in an emergency will help you and your family live better… and safer! Remember these tips:
If someone is being shocked by an electrical circuit or appliance, do not touch them directly. Either turn the power off, unplug the appliance, or remove the person from the electricity by using a non-conductive, dry material or item such as a leather belt, clothing, a towel, or rope.
If someone is in contact with an outdoor energized power line, stay at least 20 feet away from the area and do not attempt to remove the person or power line. Immediately call 911 in an emergency.
If you see a power line down, do not touch it, and keep at least 20 feet away from the area. Call Berkeley Electric Cooperative.
Keep our telephone number, other utilities, and medical emergency telephone numbers readily accessible and make sure your entire household knows where this information is kept.
One of the most overlooked hazards on today’s farms is the risk of electrocution. United Power urges farm workers to be especially aware of the dangers of using farm equipment near power lines.
Make sure that you, your family and any farm workers know the location of all overhead power lines. Map out and discuss ways to avoid them when moving equipment.
Know the height of all farm equipment and of nearby power lines. Never move equipment under a line if you are unsure of the clearance.
Avoid moving large machinery alone. Enlist someone to monitor you as you drive to prevent contact with overhead lines.
Take caution when lifting or moving irrigation pipe. The combination of metal irrigation pipe and high voltage electricity can be deadly.
Periodically check grounding rods and wires around buildings and power poles. These rods and wires can become damaged and broken. If damaged, the overall system will not provide adequate grounding protection.