Being in an automobile accident is scary, especially if when you look out the car window and see a downed utility pole or power lines. In the aftermath of an accident, your instinct may be to get out of the car in order to distance yourself from further potential harm, to seek help or to check on others involved in the accident. But if there is a downed pole or lines, you need to resist that urge. The safest place is actually inside the car until utility and rescue crews arrive and ensure you can exit the car safely.

Damaged power lines may still be electrified even if you can’t see visible signs such as arcing or sparks. Always assume that power lines are energized.

Even if the lines are not touching your vehicle, you could be putting your life in danger by stepping out of the car. Despite surviving the accident, the moment your foot hits the ground you can become the path to ground for a lethal flow of electricity.

If you find yourself in a situation where you or someone else has hit a power pole and lines are down, the best thing to do is to stay in your vehicle and call 911. If you see well-meaning people who aren’t first-responders or utility workers approaching the vehicle, tell them to stay away and that you’ve called for help.

Despite what you see in TV car accidents, fires following a crash are rare, but they sometimes occur. If the car is on fire, you will need to exit the vehicle quickly – and safely. In these situations, experts recommend jumping clear of the car while making certain you don’t touch it and the ground at the same time. To help prevent accidental contact with the vehicle after you leave it, remove any loose clothing before opening the door. Open the door by the handle without touching the door itself. Stand with your feet together on the frame, tuck your hands and elbows in close to your chest and stomach, then hop off to a spot free of power lines. To prevent falling back against the vehicle or onto downed lines, know your limitations and don’t try to jump too far at once.

Once you are on the ground, continue to hop away keeping your feet together or shuffle your feet in slow, short strides. This sounds odd but it minimizes the risk of a voltage difference between your feet that could be dangerous under the right circumstances. Continue doing this until you are at least 20-30 feet away from the burning vehicle.

Electricity provides us with safety, convenience and connection, but it can also be dangerous. Our crews are trained to be everyday safe – to make smart choices around energy, and we want to help your family do the same. Visit everydaysafe.org for more electrical safety tips.

Get your power outage emergency kit ready now

Power outages can occur at any time of the year, whether a result of ice on power lines in the winter, spring storms that bring down trees on lines, car crashes that break poles or an errant squirrel that meets an untimely end. Power at the flick of a switch is something we take for granted, and we may be surprised how much our daily lives depend on a steady flow of electricity if the power goes out.

It’s always a good plan to have an emergency preparedness kit on hand, stocked with necessities that will help you make it through an extended power outage as safely and comfortably as possible. Especially if you know ahead of time that a power outage may be coming your way, such as when ice storms or tornadoes are predicted, don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on the essentials.

Some items to consider are water for drinking, cooking and sanitary needs; food that doesn’t need to be cooked or that can be prepared on a camp stove or grill outside with proper ventilation; a manual can opener; an adequate supply of necessary medications and first aid supplies; flashlights with batteries; candles and matches (keeping in mind that you will need to practice the necessary safety precautions when using open flames); plenty of warm clothing, coverings and perhaps sleeping bags if it’s winter; and radios or TVs that are battery powered or powered by other means such as solar or hand crank. It is also important to keep your cell phones and power banks charged.

If you have a back-up generator, be sure that it is installed and operated properly. For details on how to operate a generator safely, read the guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Energy: energy.gov/ceser/activities/energy-security/emergency-preparedness/using-portableemergency-generators-safely

One item you might not think of but that will be handy to have at the ready is the manufacturer’s instructions on how to open your garage door manually. While it’s understandable to want to protect your vehicle from damaging weather, you will also need to be able to get the car out if an emergency arises. Also, make sure your vehicle’s gas tank is full in advance.

For more suggestions of items to include in an emergency preparedness kit, check out the listing from the American Red Cross at redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/survival-kit-supplies.html, or contact your local electric cooperative.

Each year, electrical malfunctions account for thousands of home fires, injuries, death and property damage. The average American home was built in 1977, and many existing homes simply can’t handle the demands of today’s electrical appliances and devices. Keep safety in mind with these helpful tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Learn the warning signs of an overloaded electrical system:

  • Frequent tripping of circuit breakers or blowing of fuses
  • Dimming of lights when other devices are tuned on
  • Buzzing sound from switches or outlets
  • Discolored outlets
  • Appliances that seem underpowered

How to avoid overloading circuits:

  • Label your circuit breakers to understand the different circuits in your home.
  • Have your home inspected by a qualified electrician if older than 40 years or if you’ve had a major appliance installed.
  • Have a qualified electrician install new circuits for high energy use devices.
  • Reduce your electrical load by using energy efficient appliances and lighting.

Working from home? Follow these electrical safety tips to keep you and your home safe from electrical hazards.

  • Avoid overloading outlets.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use to save energy and minimize the risk of shock or fire.
  • Regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage.
  • Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis.
  • Never plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors or windows.
  • Make sure cords do not become tripping hazards.
  • Keep papers and other potential combustibles at least three feet away from heat sources.
  • Make sure you use proper wattage for lamps and lighting.
  • Make sure your home as smoke alarms. Test them monthly, change batteries annually and replace the unit every 10 years.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are celebrating National Electrical Safety Month, and we want to challenge you to take a look around your home to identify and correct potential safety hazards.

Remember that every electrical device has a purpose and a service lifespan. While we can extend their operations with maintenance and care, none of them are designed to last or work forever. When electricity is involved, failures can present electrical hazards that might be avoided with periodic inspections.

Here are a few places to start.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. Outdoor outlets or those in potentially damp locations in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room often include GFCI features. They are designed to sense abnormal current flows, breaking the circuit to prevent potential electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets. The average GFCI outlet is designed to last about 10 years, but in areas prone to electrical storms or power surges, they can wear out in five years or less. Check them frequently by pressing the red test button. Make sure you hit the black reset button when you are done. Contact a licensed electrician to replace any failing GFCI outlets.

Loose or Damaged Outlets or Switches. Unstable electrical outlets or wall switches with signs of heat damage or discoloration can offer early warnings of potential shock or electrical fire hazards. Loose connections can allow electrical current arcing. If you see these warning signs, it may be time to contact an electrician.

Surge Protectors. Power strips with surge protectors can help safeguard expensive equipment like televisions, home entertainment systems and computer components from power spikes. Voltage spikes are measured in joules, and surge protectors are rated for the number of joules they can effectively absorb. That means if your surge protector is rated at 1,000 joules, it should be replaced when it hits or passes that limit. When the limit is reached, protection stops, and you’re left with a basic power strip.

Some surge protectors include indicator lights that flicker to warn you when they’ve stopped working as designed, but many do not. If your electrical system takes a major hit, or if you don’t remember when you bought your surge protector, replacement may be the best option.

Extension Cords. If you use extension cords regularly to connect devices and equipment to your wall outlets, you may live in an underwired home. With a growing number of electrical devices connecting your family to the electricity you get from CO-OP NAME, having enough outlets in just the right spots can be challenging. Remember, extension cords are designed for temporary, occasional or periodic use.

If an extension cord gets noticeably warm when in use, it could be undersized for the intended use. If it shows any signs of frayed, cracked or heat-damaged insulation, it should be replaced. If the grounding prong is missing, crimped or loose, a grounded cord will not provide the protection designed into its performance. And always make sure that extension cords used in outdoor or potentially damp locations are rated for exterior use.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 51,000 electrical fires are reported each year in the United States, causing more than $1.3 billion in annual property damage.

Electricity is an essential necessity for modern living, and Volunteer State electric co-ops are committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable power to all of our members. We hope you’ll keep these electrical safety tips in mind so that you can note any potential hazards before damage occurs.

Do you have questions about electrical safety? Contact your local electric co-op, and we will do our best to answer your questions. You can visit everydaysafe.org for more safety tips.

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Electricity plays a vital role in our lives, from powering home appliances and cellphones to keeping factories and hospitals running. While electricity is incredibly useful, it can be dangerous.

May is National Electrical Safety Month. This is a great time to look around your home to identify potential safety hazards.

May is also the time of year that electric co-op crews pay a little more attention to the weather. Spring brings warmer temperatures and blooming flowers, but it also brings an increase in the possibility of severe weather here in Tennessee.

Please consider these tips to keep your family safe when severe weather threatens.

Be prepared. Don’t allow yourself to be caught off-guard. Have a way to receive alerts when they are issued – either a NOAA Weather Radio or a cell phone that receives alerts. Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely. Have a place prepared for you and your family to shelter when the need arises – you don’t want to empty out a closet when time is of the essence. An emergency kit including a radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit and medicine should also be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Act quickly. If you hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If a watch is issued, pay attention. If a warning is issued, act immediately. Take shelter in a substantial building or in an interior closet. Get out of mobile homes that may blow over in high winds. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Do not take a bath or use plumbing. If you are driving, exit the road and find a safe place to ride out the storm.

Be smart after the storm. Be aware of hazards and debris left by the storm. Never touch downed power lines or anything in contact with downed lines. If it is dark when you are inspecting your home, use a flashlight rather than a candle to reduce the risk of fires or explosions. Be sure your family is safe and then look for opportunities to help friends and neighbors.

Regardless of what the weather brings, electric co-op crews are prepared to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We take seriously our responsibility to keep the power on and restore service quickly.

Planning to put in a new pool before the hot days of summer arrive? Or maybe you’ll beautify your yard with some pretty flowering trees or shrubbery? Before you dig any holes or excavate part of your yard, be sure to take an important safety step in calling 811. This is imperative for small jobs such as installing a new mailbox as well as larger ones such as building new fencing or a deck because the depth of utility lines varies. You don’t want to be the neighbor who inadvertently knocks out utility service to your entire neighborhood, not to mention potentially causing harm to yourself or your family.

Tennessee 811 is a nonprofit organization that helps homeowners and contractors locate underground utility lines so that digging can proceed safely. With one call, you can notify the owners of various underground utility lines who, within a few days, will mark the locations of the lines. Calling is required by law. If you dig without calling and damage utility lines, fines can be assessed and repair costs will come out of your pocket.

Keep in mind that private utility lines will not be covered by a call to Tennessee 811. Examples of private lines are water and sewer lines that run from your meter to your house. You might need to contact your local or city government, tax assessor or registrar of deeds to help locate these lines. Also not covered are customer-owned lines such as those for invisible fencing, outdoor lighting and irrigation. Tennessee 811 maintains a list of private locators. For a fee, these professionals can help you locate these underground lines.

The call center for Tennessee 811 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 811 or 1-800-351-1111 or via an online e-ticket program at tenn811.com. The website also has an FAQ section to answer more specific questions about the process and what to expect.

For many of us, it is hard to beat the feeling being outside and enjoying the first warm day of Spring. Whether you are just enjoying a walk around the yard or grabbing some tools to complete some project that you put off all winter, be sure that you keep these springtime electrical safety tips in mind.

Be aware of overhead power lines. Don’t fly kites or drones anywhere near electric lines or substations. Be sure to keep ladders a safe distance from electric wires while cleaning gutters or completing other spring chores. Materials, tools and all parts of your body should always stay at least 15 feet away from electric lines.

Call before you dig. Call 811 before digging in your yard. Even if it is something as simple as planting a tree, it is important to know what is below the ground. A quick phone call could save your life and your pocket book.

Trees and electric lines don’t mix. Before trimming trees or allowing kids to play in trees or bushes, make certain that there are no electric lines hidden in the leaves and branches.

Check your cords. Before using extension cords or electric tools, check for frayed cords, damaged plugs and other wear. Don’t use damaged equipment until it has been repaired.

Energy and water makes a dangerous combination. Keep extension cords and other electrical equipment away from pools, fountains or ponds. Be sure that sprinklers and irrigation equipment do not spray water onto power lines or other electrical equipment.

If you have questions about electric equipment on your property or how to be safe around power lines, contact your local electric co-op. We want you and your family to be everyday safe.

It’s no surprise that winter months bring increased potential for fire risks and electrical safety hazards. This makes sense because during the coldest months, consumers are using additional electrical devices and appliances, like space heaters, electric blankets and portable generators.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 47,700 home fires occur each year in the U.S. due to electrical failure or malfunction. These fires result in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage annually. This winter, safeguard your loved ones and your home with these electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

  1. Don’t overload outlets. Overloaded outlets are a major cause of residential fires. Avoid using extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliance connections––they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. If you’re relying heavily on extension cords in general, you may need additional outlets to address your needs. Contact a qualified electrician to inspect your home and add new outlets.
  2. Never leave space heaters unattended. If you’re using a space heater, turn if off before leaving the room. Make sure heaters are placed at least three feet away from flammable items. It should also be noted that space heaters take a toll on your energy bills. If you’re using them throughout your home, it may be time to upgrade your home heating system.
  3. Inspect heating pads and electric blankets. These items cause nearly 500 fires every year. Electric blankets that are more than 10 years old create additional risks for a fire hazard. Inspect your electric blankets and heating pads – look for dark, charred or frayed spots, and make sure the electrical cord is not damaged. Do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, and never fold them when in use.
  4. Use portable generators safely. Unfortunately, winter storms can cause prolonged power outages, which means many consumers will use portable generators to power their homes. Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system. For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator first, before you plug in appliances. Run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home. The carbon monoxide it generates is deadly, so keep it away from your garage, doors, windows and vents.

NASHVILLE – If you’re driving on Tennessee roads, what should you do if you approach a utility vehicle stopped on the shoulder with its flashing lights activated? According to the state’s Move Over law, motorists must slow down or move over, or you could be fined for not complying.

Tennessee’s “Move Over” law was passed in 2006 to protect first responders like police officers, firefighters and paramedics. In 2011, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives led a coalition to revise the state’s move over law to include utility workers as well.

The requirements of Tennessee’s move over law are simple. On a four lane road, if safety and traffic conditions allow, a driver approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights should move into the far lane. On a two lane road or when changing lanes is not possible, a driver should reduce their speed.

Electric co-op vehicles aren’t the only utility vehicles covered; service vehicles used by municipal electric systems, telephone companies and utility districts are also protected by the law.

Electric lineworkers face many dangers – high voltage, heights and extreme weather conditions. Despite these challenges, one of the most dangerous parts of their job is working alongside busy roadways, often only feet away from passing cars

“We have had cars come through at high rates of speed, hitting the cones we have set up and clipping the outriggers that we have down to support the trucks,” says Greg Bryant, line foreman for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, Tenn. “I think people care, they just don’t pay attention like they should.”

“When we are in the bucket or up a pole, we can clearly see into passing cars, and it is shocking how many drivers are looking at their phones,” says Bryant, who shares this important tip. “Put the phone down and pay attention. Lives are on the line.”

“July marks the 8th anniversary of the expansion of the law, but too many drivers either don’t know about it or simply don’t care,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Associaiton. “Our lineworkers perform an important job for our community. Changing lanes or slowing down to give them a little space is a simple courtesy that could save a life.”

More information about the law is available at moveovertennessee.org.

Tennessee’s electric co-ops work very hard to build strong and resilient power distribution systems, but winter storms can cause widespread damage for even the most prepared utilities. These tips from ready.gov can help your family be safe and better prepared for winter storms.

Extended power outages may impact the whole community and the economy. A power outage is when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. A power outage may:

  • Disrupt communications, water, and transportation.
  • Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services.
  • Cause food spoilage and water contamination.
  • Prevent use of medical devices.

PROTECT YOURSELF DURING A POWER OUTAGE:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.
  • Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.
  • Do not use a gas stove to heat your home.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.
  • If safe, go to an alternate location for heat or cooling.
  • Check on neighbors.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A POWER OUTAGE THREATENS: 

Prepare NOW

  • Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.
  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
  • Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
  • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems. Monitor weather reports.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
  • Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
  • Review the supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member. Have enough nonperishable food and water.
  • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
  • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.

Survive DURING

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer.
  • Maintain food supplies that do not require refrigeration.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
  • Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
  • Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.

Be Safe AFTER

  • When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.

NASHVILLE – It is an exciting and exhausting time, the culmination of a season of hard work. However, the rush to harvest can also yield tragic outcomes. Each year, dozens of farm workers are killed and hundreds are injured in accidents involving power lines and electrical equipment.

“Things get very busy this time of year on the farm, and it is all too easy to forget the danger that may be just overhead,” says Trent Scott, spokesperson for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

Review with all workers the farm activities that take place around power lines. Inspect the height of farm equipment to determine clearance. Keep equipment at least 10 feet away from power lines – above, below and to the side – a 360-degree rule.

“Take the time to lower grain augers before moving them, even if it’s only a few feet,” says Scott. “Also use extreme caution when raising booms or buckets on equipment.”

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives encourage farm workers to take these steps to ensure a safer harvest season:

  • Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines. Do not let the spotter touch the machinery while it is being moved anywhere near power lines.
  • As with any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles or rods into power lines. Remember, non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, ropes and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path!
  • Don’t use metal poles to break up bridged grain inside bins. Know where and how to shut off the power in an emergency.
  • Use qualified electricians for work on drying equipment and other farm electrical systems.

Operators of farm equipment or vehicles must also know what to do if the vehicle comes in contact with a power line: Stay on the equipment, warn others to stay away and call 911. Do not get off the equipment until the utility crew says it is safe to do so.

“If the power line is energized and you step outside, high-voltage could flow through your body,” Scott said. “Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire.”

If this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together, without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area.

Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment. Some electrocutions have occurred after the operator dismounts and, realizing nothing has happened, tries to get back on the equipment.

It is very important that all farm workers and seasonal employees are informed of electrical hazards and trained in proper procedures to avoid injury.

For other tips on how to be safe around electricity visit www.everydaysafe.org or call the safety experts at your local electric cooperative.

Thousands of children are injured and hundreds are killed every year by hazards found on the farm. Some of these children are working on the farm while others wander into trouble on their own or are invited into hazardous areas. Implement injury prevention strategies today to protect agriculture’s greatest resource, our children.

  • Do not allow children to roam freely on the farm. Design a fenced “safe play area.” This area should be near the house and away from work activities.
  • Inspect your farm on a regular basis for hazards that can injure children wandering on your farm. Correct obvious hazards immediately.
  • Children who are physically able to be involved in farm work should be assigned age-appropriate tasks and continually trained to perform them. They should also be constantly supervised.
  • Equip all barns, farm shops, chemical storage areas, livestock pens, etc. with latches that can be locked or secured so that children cannot enter.
  • Always turn equipment off, lower hydraulics and remove the key before leaving equipment unattended.
  • Do not expose children to hazards. Never carry them on tractors and equipment or invite them into the farm shop, livestock barns, grain bins, etc.

Inspection

  • Is there a designated “safe play area?”
  • Are equipment guards in place?
  • Are hazardous work areas locked?
  • Are farm ponds and pits fenced?

Information supplied by the National Safety Council’s Agricultural Division, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) – www.necasag.org or 888-844-6322.

Even when you take precautions, a farm can be a dangerous place. Equipment, livestock and other dangers pose risks for families and employees that are not found in other environments. These unique dangers require unique preparation.

The National Ag Safety Database and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension provide this list of items needed to create a farm first aid kit. Most, if not all, of these supplies can be found at the local drug store or are available online. Think about keeping one of these in each vehicle and tractor.

The following is a list of items that should be in a farm first aid kit:

  • A basic first aid manual
  • Two triangular bandages with 36″ sides (made from bed sheets)
  • Spray antiseptic (not a pressurized can)
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Twelve adhesive bandages and four safety pins
  • Two pairs of rubber or latex gloves
  • Eye goggles
  • Three small packages of sugar
  • Mouth protection device for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • Four compress bandages, 2″x2″, 4″x4″
  • 24″x72″ compress
  • Six pressure bandages
  • Gauze bandage
  • Stainless steel bandage scissors (strong enough to cut through denim)
  • One elastic wrap
  • Cold pack
  • Amputation preservation kit (plastic bags: one large garbage bag, four kitchen-sized and two bread bags)
  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Two-inch sterile gauze pads (four to six)
  • Four-inch sterile gauze pads (four to six)
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Two-inch sterile roller bandages (three roles)
  • Three-inch sterile roller bandages (three roles)
  • Splints: ¼ inch thick x 3 inches wide x 12 to 15 inches long
  • Scissors, tweezers, needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (two)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Sunscreen

NASHVILLE – Electric lineworkers face many dangers – high voltage, heights and extreme weather conditions. Despite these challenges, one of the most dangerous aspects of the job has less to do with what they do and more to do with where they do it.

Lineworkers frequently work alongside busy roadways, often only feet away from passing cars.

Tennessee’s “Move Over” law was passed in 2006 to protect first responders like police officers, firefighters and paramedics. In 2011, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives led a coalition to revise the state’s move over law to include utility workers as well. Unfortunately, seven years after the law was passed, many motorists do not follow it.

“We have had cars come through at high rates of speed, hitting the cones we have set up and clipping the outriggers that we have down to support the trucks,” says Greg Bryant, line foreman for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, Tenn. “I think people care, they just don’t pay attention like they should.”

The requirements of Tennessee’s move over law are simple. On a four lane road, if safety and traffic conditions allow, a driver approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights should move into the far lane. On a two lane road or when changing lanes is not possible, a driver should reduce their speed.

Electric co-op vehicles aren’t the only utility vehicles covered; service vehicles used by municipal electric systems, telephone companies and utility districts are also protected by the law.

More information about the law is available at moveovertennessee.org.

[NASHVILLE] – May is National Electric Safety Month. Electricity is an important part of our everyday lives, but each year unsafe and careless practices lead to fires, injuries and even deaths. Tennessee’s electric co-ops remind the public of the dangers of electricity and provides these tips to keep you and your family safe:

WHEN OUTSIDE

  • Keep people and pets away from damaged power lines and other electrical equipment. Don’t touch anything in contact with downed lines such as a car, tree, fence or clothesline.
  • Don’t climb trees or fly kites, remote control airplanes, drones or balloons near power lines. If you get something stuck on a power line, call your local electric cooperative or 911 and stay away!
  • Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas or gutters on your home.
  • If a power line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Call yourself or ask someone to call 911, then your local electric cooperative. If you must exit the car, open the door and jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle away using small steps with both feet on the ground until you are at least 50 feet away.

IN YOUR HOME

  • All electrical work should be performed by a licensed electrician.
  • Use GFCI-protected outlets in kitchens and bathrooms. Water and electricity do not mix.
  • Routinely check cords, outlets, switches and appliances for signs of damage. Immediately stop using damaged electrical devices and have them replaced or repaired.
  • Do not overload outlets with too many devices or appliances.
  • Never run extension cords under rugs or carpets.
  • When replacing bulbs, always follow recommended wattage recommendations.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries once a year.
  • Don’t throw water on an electrical fire. Use an approved fire extinguisher.

ON THE FARM

  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines – at all times, in all directions.
  • Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
  • Use care when raising augers or the beds of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Always remember to lower extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, call the local utility immediately.
  • If your equipment does hit a power line, stay in the cab. Call 911, warn others to stay away and wait for the utility crew to cut the power. If a fire or another situation makes it necessary to leave, jump clear and move away.

Electric co-ops routinely provide electric safety demonstrations for schools and other groups. Contact your local co-op for more information or to schedule a demonstration.

Spring is finally here! With the snow melted and the ground ready for planting, eager homeowners like you are gearing up to start those outdoor digging projects. Before you reach for that shovel to start digging, remember to call 811, the Tennessee’s call-before-you-dig number, to ensure that your buried utility lines are marked.

April is National Safe Digging Month, and Tennessee’s electric cooperatives want to remind our members that a complex network of pipelines, wires and cables lies just underground. Striking an underground utility line while digging can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood and potentially result in fines and repair costs.

A call should be placed to 811 before every digging project, from simple landscaping projects like planting trees or shrubs, to building a deck or installing a rural mailbox. Every nine minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Don’t become part of the statistic – make sure to call 811!

Here’s how it works:

  • One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for Tennessee 811 to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig.
  • Call at least a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for utility lines to be properly marked.
  • When you call 811, a representative from Tennessee 811 will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
  • Tennessee 811 will notify affected utility companies, like your local electric cooperative, who will then each send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.
  • Once lines have been properly marked, roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.

When thunderstorms are rolling your way, stay safe with these helpful tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

Source: American Red Cross

Every year, the U.S. is hit by many natural disasters, including snow and ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. These types of disasters pose a significant threat to our communities and homes. The most important step you can take to keep you and your family safe is to prepare beforehand, but knowing what to do during and after the event is crucial as well.

Before disaster strikes, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that are common in your region, especially if you’re new to the area. Many of the specifics depend on what type of disaster you’re expecting, but there are several general guidelines to keep in mind as you prepare:

Water: You will need one gallon per person per day. If you assume your family of four may be stranded for a week, store a minimum of 28 gallons.

Food: Stock up on non-perishable or long shelf-life items, such as wheat, soybeans, canned fruits, peanut butter, jelly and condensed soups.

First Aid Kit: Make sure your kit includes adhesive bandages (assorted sizes), antiseptic wipes, aspirin, hydrocortisone ointment, scissors and a thermometer. For a full list of suggested items, visit www.redcross.org.

Flashlights and candles: Be sure to keep extra batteries and matches (in a waterproof container) on hand.

For additional guidance on emergency items to keep around the house, visit www.ready.gov/build-a-kit. Also consider training offered by local emergency management services such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes.

Some disasters occur suddenly, but many bring advance warnings, like hurricanes and winter storms. Pay special attention during the week leading up to the event for local and state government warnings and evacuation notices. Make sure every family member knows what your emergency plan is: staying or leaving, safe rooms in the house, where supplies are located, what to do if anyone is separated, and how to notify loved ones that you’re safe after the event. It’s also a good idea to know where your home’s main water and gas shutoff valves are located.

Electric co-ops spend millions of dollars each year to improve the resiliency and durability of our distribution systems, but it is possible to lose power during a storm. The outage could be momentary or last hours or even days. If you live in an area where loss of power after a storm could be dangerous, consider purchasing a backup generator for your home. These can cost anywhere from a few hundred to few thousand dollars, depending on your needs. Be sure to test the generator before the disaster to ensure it’s operating properly.

If you don’t have a backup generator and lose power, don’t panic. Most power outages are short and will not last more than a few hours. However, without knowing in advance how long the outage will last, it’s wise to assume and act as though it will last for days. Here are a few general tips for wise energy practices during a disaster:

  • Consume perishable and refrigerated foods first before they spoil.
  • Pack frozen foods close together and consider freezing water bottles to eliminate any air pockets. The frozen water will help keep the food cooler longer.
  • Make sure you have alternative lighting sources, like candles and flashlights (with spare batteries) located throughout the home.
  • Keep manual tools such as a can opener on hand to replace any electronic gadgets you typically use.
  • Similar to filling a bathtub with water before a storm, make sure that all cell phones are fully charged.
  • If the disaster involves lightning, unplug all electronic devices to protect against a power surge.

After the storm, be cautious when leaving your home. Listen to government warnings and use common sense when approaching any damaged buildings or fallen trees. If you see a power line that is down, always assume the wires are live and dangerous. If possible, call your local electric cooperative to report the downed power line.

With a little bit of forethought, you’re highly likely to make it through a disaster without too many problems. Remember, you and your family’s safety should always come first.

For more information on disaster preparedness, visit www.ready.gov.

 

If the fireworks show is in your yard this July 4, steer clear of power lines. Most people celebrate by watching a local, professional show — supervised by firefighters. But if you’re starting the performance early with consumer fireworks, here are some tips:

Your fireworks might be legal, but that doesn’t mean they are safe. The U.S. Fire Administration reports thousands of fireworks-related injuries each summer. The biggest threats: firecrackers, followed by bottle rockets and sparklers, which burn at about 2,000 degrees.

Fireworks are especially dangerous when used near power lines, so stay clear. Light fireworks only in open areas where no power lines can be seen, and call your cooperative immediately if your celebration gets tangled in an overhead wire.

Follow these additional safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Children should be spectators, not participants, in the show. Never give children fireworks or sparklers.
  • Read and carefully follow directions and warning labels. Most injuries result from improper use.
  • Keep spectators at least 20 feet away and not downwind from where the fireworks will be set off.
  • Light fireworks only on a smooth, flat surface away from all flammable materials, including dry leaves.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that don’t function.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of fire.

May is National Electric Safety Month, and Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are using the opportunity to remind everyone to be safe around electricity.

“Electricity provides the benefits and conveniences that make modern life possible,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “What you don’t know or choose to ignore about electrical safety could seriously injure or kill you or someone you love.”

Tennessee’s co-ops offer these tips to keep you and your family safe this summer:

  • Keep people and pets away from damaged power lines and other electrical equipment. Don’t touch anything in contact with downed lines such as a car, tree, fence or clothesline.
  • Don’t climb trees, fly kites, remote-control airplanes or drones; or release balloons near power lines. If you get something stuck on a power line, call your local co-op or 911 and stay away!
  • Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas or gutters on your home.
  • If a power line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Call or ask someone to call 911, then your local co-op. If you must exit the car, open the door and jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle away using small steps, keeping both feet on the ground, until you are at least 50 feet away.
  • All electrical work should be performed by a licensed electrician.
  • Use GFCI-protected outlets in kitchens and bathrooms. Water and electricity do not mix.
  • Routinely check cords, outlets, switches and appliances for signs of damage. Immediately stop using damaged electrical devices and have them replaced or repaired.
  • Do not overload outlets with too many devices or appliances.
  • Never run extension cords under rugs or carpets.
  • When replacing bulbs, always follow recommended wattage guidelines.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries once a year.
  • Don’t throw water on an electrical fire. Use an approved fire extinguisher.

You can find additional safety tips and information at everydaysafe.org.