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.

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

During planting time, many farmers reap the benefits of advancement in agricultural technology. With the help of GPS auto-steer devices, farmers are able to decrease driver error and maximize productivity. Yet despite these advances, safety risks remain. To help farmers stay out of harm’s way, the electric cooperatives of Tennessee share these tips to get the crop planted safely.

GPS with auto-guidance provides farmers with real-time location data about a field, which can be used for crop planning, map making, navigation assistance and machinery guidance. This technology allows drivers to have their hands off the steering wheel as the tractor maneuvers itself through the field. Thanks to this technology, farmers can more easily and efficiently maintain accuracy even during low-light conditions, which enhances productivity.

“One critical part of safety around electricity is awareness,” explains Kyla Kruse, communications director of the Safe Electricity program. “It’s important to remember that farm machinery is vulnerable to hitting power lines because of its large size, height and extensions. Being aware of the location of overhead power lines and planning a safe equipment route can help reduce accidents.”

In equipment with auto-guidance systems, less focus is needed on steering, which may lead some drivers to think that they do not need to be as aware of navigation issues. However, even while using a GPS with auto-steering, farm workers need to keep safety in mind and stay focused on their surroundings.

Putting safety first requires alertness, focus and knowledge of potential hazards and safety steps. Varying pass-to-pass accuracy levels and potential issues, such as power poles not being correctly plotted in the system, reinforce the need for drivers to stay focused on the location of the farm equipment while in the field and to be ready to take action if necessary.

Regardless the technology used on the farm, keep the following electrical safety guidelines in mind:

  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines.
  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines—at all times, in all directions.
  • Look up and use care when moving any equipment such as extending augers or raising the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Inspect the height of farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always set extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads to prevent contact with overhead power lines. Grain augers should always be positioned horizontally before being moved.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, contact your local electric cooperative.

If your equipment does make contact with a power line, do not leave the cab. Immediately call 911, warn others to stay away and wait for the utility crew to cut the power.

The only reason to exit equipment that has come into contact with overhead lines is if the equipment is on fire, which is rare. However, if this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together and without touching the ground and machinery at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area.

For more information on electrical safety, visit everydaysafe.org.

When planting a tree, we often concentrate on the ground. Digging a hole. Preparing the soil. Fertilizing properly.

It is also important to look up. Trees and powerlines don’t mix, and the best time to think about it is before you even start digging.

Follow these tips to keep your fully-grown tree and your family safe.