Starkville Utilities Urges Safety When Working Outdoors
Spring safety tips include preventing storm-related electrical hazards
STARKVILLE - Springtime and yard work go hand-in-hand, but it’s also the season when accidents and injuries tend to increase. Starkville Utilities reminds customers to make safety their priority by avoiding common outdoor hazards, especially those involved with working around power lines.
“This is the time of year when everyone wants to be outside, and for many residents, the COVID-19 quarantine has provided more opportunities to work on yard and house projects,” said Terry Kemp, general manager, Starkville Utilities. “But electricity is not a do-it-yourself project. We’re reminding customers to use only qualified electrical contractors and always stay clear of overhead power lines when working around the house.”
Because falling branches are a leading cause of power outages, it’s important to inspect property for dead trees and branches that may be growing dangerously close to power lines. By proactively managing trees and large bushes, homeowners can prevent unnecessary power outages, especially during the high-wind storm season.
Kemp has the same advice for tree maintenance: Leave it to the professionals.
“It’s a wise investment to protect your home and prevent power outages, especially during storms,” he said. “Never trim or climb trees near power lines, maintaining a distance of at least 10 feet. Even if there is no contact with a line, electricity can arc to nearby objects and people, resulting in serious and sometimes fatal injuries.”
In addition to overhead lines, customers should be aware of underground pipes and lines that deliver utilities. Always call 811 at least three days before installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree or performing any other digging-related activity so that professional locators can mark utility-owned underground lines.
Starkville Utilities encourages customers to follow these safety practices when working outdoors this spring and throughout the year:
- Look up and around. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long tools like ladders, pool skimmers and pruning poles.
- Be careful when working on or around your roof. That includes installing or cleaning gutters, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, or making repairs. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines.
- Check outdoor outlets. During rainy winter months, moisture can seep into uncovered outlets. Be sure to check outside outlets for signs of damage and make sure they are covered properly in all seasons.
- Never use an indoor extension cord outdoors. Outdoor cords are labeled “For Outdoor Use” and are usually orange. Never attempt to extend the length of an extension cord by connecting it with another extension cord and make sure the amperage rating for the extension cord is higher than the amperage of the electrical product being used.
- Inspect electric tools for damage to cords, plugs and wiring. Take them to a qualified professional for repair.
- Do not connect generators directly to household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch installed. Power from generators connected directly to household wiring can back feed along power lines and electrocute anyone who comes in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
- Never operate a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Use carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed spaces to monitor levels. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.
- Make sure your fire extinguisher is in good working condition. Fire extinguishers lose their charge over time. Inspect your fire extinguisher to make sure it can put out an electrical fire and that it has not lost its charge.
- Keep a storm-readiness kit stocked with first-aid supplies, flashlights and radios with extra batteries, a three-day supply of food and water, an adapter to charge cell phones, and other essential needs. Learn more at ready.gov.
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.