As the days continue to warm this summer, Pennsylvanians are starting yard work and home improvement projects that were shelved during the cold winter months.
However, for folks doing things like working in their yards, digging underground, trimming trees or building fences, power lines can be a big problem. After all, contact with a power line can be fatal. If you’re doing some work around the house this spring and summer, we’ve got some tips to help keep you safe.
Make Sure You Call PECO Before You Dig
If you live in the Greater Philadelphia Region or certain other areas in Pennsylvania, PECO Energy Co. distributes electricity to your home, regardless of whether you buy your electricity from them or from an alternative electric supplier. That means, as your residential electric utility, PECO maintains all the power lines, poles, transformers and other equipment that delivers your electricity.
If you’re going to be doing things like working underground, planting a tree or laying a foundation, you should call PECO before you dig so that they can come out and mark all power lines, gas lines and telephone lines for your safety. Call Pennsylvania One Call at 811 at least three days in advance of the work you’re planning to do.
Tips for Working Safely Outdoors Near Exposed Power Lines
Digging around buried power lines isn’t the only danger you need to be wary of. Here are some tips for safely working around exposed lines, such as aerial power lines:
- Even if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you should consider contracting a licensed professional if outdoor yard work, landscaping or other home improvements require working near power lines.
- Aerial power lines, as well as those attached to utility poles and those entering your home or other buildings or structures, are just as dangerous as underground lines. To be safe, keep a distance of 10 feet or more from all power lines — that includes you, your equipment and anything you carry.
- Pay special attention to power lines running through tree limbs and branches if you’re climbing or trimming trees. Consider using a qualified contractor to trim trees located close to aerial power lines.
- If you, contractors or other professionals need to work within 10 feet of a power line, you should call PECO New Business Services in advance at 800.454.4100 so that the electric utility can protect the work area.
Tips for Working Safely Outdoors With Electric Tools
Although avoiding power lines is important, power lines aren’t the only things you need to be mindful of when working outdoors this summer. You should also be mindful of safely using electric tools:
- Be sure to inspect your electric tools — from small tools like jig saws to big ones like drill presses and bench grinders — on a regular basis, including before the first time you use them after the long winter break. Frayed power cords, broken plugs or cracked housings are signs of serious potential trouble and should be repaired or replaced before using the tools. Never use a damaged power tool.
- Never use electrical tools anywhere around water or in the rain and be especially careful not to use electric lawn mowers on wet grass.
- Always use three-pronged outlets and plugs and always remove a power cord from a socket by grasping the plug, not the cord.
- Always use personal protective equipment, such as face shields, gloves, boots and glasses when working with electric tools. The manuals that came with your equipment will have the details on the protective equipment you should use.
Always use the appropriate type of extension cord. When working outdoors, use an extension cord marked for outdoor use. Using an indoor extension cord outside could result in a fire hazard and an electric shock.
“Important Spring Safety Tips from PECO,” PECO Energy Co. press release, May 19, 2011.
PECO Energy Co. website, “Home Energy Safety Tips.”