Electrical safety tips
Outdoors, or in your home, you can stay safe.
Understanding how electricity works enables you to remain safe indoors and outdoors, at home or on the job.
Please take a look at the tips and resources below in order to be prepared, keep safe, and avoid electrical hazards and injuries.
For great tips on how to prepare for power outages and what to do during a monsoon thunderstorm, visit the UES Outage Center.
Look up and look out for overhead power lines. Be mindful of any nearby lines before you climb a ladder or extend the handle of a pool-cleaning tool.
Keep materials, tools and all parts of your body at least 15 feet away from any overhead power lines at all times. If you plan to get any closer, state law requires you to make arrangements with UES that will allow your work to proceed safely. Keep this in mind when installing or repairing an antenna or satellite dish or preparing your evaporative cooler for summer use.
Before you trim tree limbs and shrubs, watch out for power lines that could be hidden by foliage. Contact UES' Customer Care line at 877-837-4968 if you have questions or concerns about tree limbs growing into or around overhead power lines on your property. Customers who wish to clear tree limbs or other foliage away from an electric service line must first call UES' Customer Care line to ask that their power be turned off for the duration of their work. Customers are responsible for keeping foliage at least 15 feet away from the service lines that connect their homes and businesses to UES' electrical distribution system. There is no cost for this temporary suspension of electric service.
Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers for frayed power cords, broken plugs and weathered or damaged housings before every use. Don't use damaged equipment until it has been repaired properly. Keep tools unplugged and stored in dry areas when they are not in use. And always use an insulated extension cord designed for outdoor use with the correct power rating for that equipment. Always keep power cords and electrical equipment away from water, wet grass or other wet areas. Keep this in mind when using electric-powered mowers or other lawn equipment.
Never fly kites or model airplanes near power lines. If a kite does get tangled with overhead lines, don't try to get it down yourself, as a kite string can conduct electricity. Instead, call UES for assistance. Don't fly your kite when a thunderstorm is brewing.
Before you dig
Call before you dig. Whether you're a homeowner landscaping your yard or a professional contractor digging utility trenches, remember to call Arizona 811 (formerly Arizona Blue Stake) at 1-800-STAKE-IT (1-800-782-5348) at least two working days before you dig. It's a free service, and it's required by state law.
Keep vegetation and permanent structures away from the large, green ground-level boxes that house components of UES' underground electrical system. UES workers may need to access the underground lines and equipment near these boxes during power outages and for routine maintenance.
Fallen power lines
Treat all electric lines with caution and respect. Even low-voltage electric lines and cords can be hazardous if damaged or improperly handled. And if you EVER see a downed power line, call 911 immediately; don't get near it.
Keep your distance
Understanding how electricity works will enable you to use it safely around the home. Here are facts and tips that will help you avoid electrical hazards and injuries.
Electricity always seeks the path of least resistance. It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wet sod, wet wood, water-or your body. Your body is 70 percent water. So if you touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground, causing a harmful-or fatal-shock.
Most service panels have a main switch. Use it to cut all power when changing a breaker switch, or in case of fire or shock. If you don't have a main switch, turn off all circuit breakers. Don't tamper with your electric meter. You'll risk electrocution, explosion or fire.
- Do fuses blow or circuit breakers trip often?
- Do toasters or irons not get as hot as they should?
- Does your TV picture shrink when appliances go on?
- Do you use extension cords because there aren't enough outlets?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, have your home inspected by a qualified techincian.
Prevent electrical shocks
When you use a plug with three prongs, the third prong connects inside the outlet with a "ground wire," which usually connects to a water pipe or a ground rod at the service panel. As a result, in a short circuit, electricity should flow to the ground instead of through you. Never remove the third prong.
A ground fault occurs when electricity travels outside an intended path, because of a frayed wire or faulty device, and tries to get to the ground by the path of least resistance. Touch that device, and you may become that route. Unless you have an outlet with a GFCI, you may be seriously shocked or burned.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are found in outlets and service panels. They monitor the flow of current to and from appliances. If there's an imbalance in the flow, current may be traveling through you, and the GFCI will quickly cut power to prevent serious injury. GFCIs:
- Are required in newer homes in bathrooms and garages, near sinks and outdoors.
- Are required on some basement outlets.
- Can be added as temporary plug-in GFCI adapters.
- Can also be added by an electrician as replacement outlets.
If your outlets don't have GFCI test and reset buttons, check your main service panel—you may have some ground fault protected circuit breakers.
Storm & outage safety
Protecting your electronics
The time to prepare your home and your expensive electronics is before thunderstorms arrive. Unplug your vulnerable electronics, such as your computer (and its phone line) and your home entertainment center, before you leave your home for hours or days. Some manufacturers of surge protectors offer optional insurance plans that will pay for replacing any damaged electronics. However, the surest method to keeping your electronic equipment from being zapped is to unplug them.
Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn on these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.
Prepare an emergency kit now for those rare occasions when power is interrupted. Your emergency kit should contain at a minimum the following items:
- Flashlight and battery-powered radio with fresh batteries
- Necessary medications
- One gallon of water per person plus water for pets
- A small amount of ready to eat food
- First-aid kit
Emergency supplies & tips for severe conditions
Severe storm or natural disaster damage sometimes results in an extended interruption to day-to-day life. It's important to be prepared for those rare instances, especially if you live in a rural area. Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or covered trash containers.
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
- One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
- A first-aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
- Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
- An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
- Sanitation supplies.
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
- An extra pair of glasses.
- Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.
- Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.