Electric & Household Safety

Power Line Safety

Downed Power Line

  • Never touch a downed power line or anything that the power line touches. Although it may look harmless and innocent, the line could still be energized and deadly. Please keep this simple message in mind: Stay Away!
  • Report it! — Call 911 or (208) 743-1501 (24/7)
  • Never try to move downed power lines — objects such as brooms, boards, limbs or other non-metallic materials can still conduct electricity. Leave these situations for emergency professionals.
  • Avoid driving over downed power lines.

Cars and Power Lines

If a power line touches your car as a result of an accident:

  • Do not get out. If possible, drive the vehicle away from the power line.
  • If it is necessary to leave the vehicle, jump out without touching the car and the ground at the same time. Then shuffle away, keeping both feet together, rather than taking steps to minimize the chance of electricity flowing through the ground and then through your body. Fight the urge to run, and warn others not to run. This is because when a live wire touches the ground, electricity travels through the ground in all directions. Voltage decreases as it travels from the center where the live wire is touching the ground. If you run or take large steps, you could conduct electricity from one leg at one voltage to another leg at another voltage.

Graphic showing two figures by a fallen power line. Step potential = 1. voltage decreases as you move away from the point of contact. 2. Keep feet close together to minimize potential voltage difference. Shuffling steps are safer. Voltage difference between feet is low. Large steps are dangerous. Voltage difference between feet is high.

Look Up and Live

When working outside with ladders, antennas, irrigation pipes, or vehicles that lift, always look up to check where the power lines are located.

Call 811 Before Digging

This underground location service is free, fast, and safe.


If you are planning to trim trees or logging near a power line, call us first. We will come out and trim or fall the tree free of charge.

Flying Objects

Kites, balloons, or other flying toys near power lines — if a kite or other type of object gets caught in the power line, call us immediately and we will come out and remove it for you.

Generator Safety

Generator connected to house. 1. Operate the generator at a safe distance, stay away from the exhaust. 2. Use a transfer switch to keep linemen safe while they work.


Never add fuel to a generator while it is running.

Carbon Monoxide

Never use a generator indoors. Burning fuel produces carbon monoxide which can be deadly. Only operate the generator in a well-ventilated area.

Extension Cords

Excessive voltage drop may occur if the extension cord connected to the appliance is too long, or the wires are too small. The longer the cord, the bigger the wires need to be. If the extension cord becomes warm during use, it is inadequate and poses a fire danger. A heavy-duty 12AWG cord is recommended for most applications.

Transfer Switches

Any generator connected to house wiring must have a transfer switch. A transfer switch isolates the generator from the power lines to prevent the possibility of back feeding. If the generator is connected to your house wiring and the transfer switch is not properly installed, it can be deadly for a lineman working on the power lines. Check with a licensed electrician or the state electrical inspector to see what types of switches are allowed in your area and for your situation. Always have your transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician.

Other Safety Information

Electric motors require extra power on startup. Do not overload the generator’s electrical capacity.

Household Electric Safety


If one appliance repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, or if it has emitted an electric shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.


Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs which can overheat and lead to fires. Replace any broken wall plates. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.

Power Strips

Do not overload power strips. If a power strip is hot to the touch, remove and replace the unit. Do not plug a power strip into another existing power strip. This could lead to overheating or a fire.

Circuit Breakers/Fuses

Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size for the circuits. If you do not know the correct size fuse, have an electrician identify and label the sizes. Never replace a fuse with anything but another correct size fuse.

Appliance Cords

Make sure cords are in good condition – not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall baseboard or to another object and they should not have any furniture resting on them.

Extension Cords

Check to see that the cords are in good condition. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not safe as permanent household wiring.

Water and Electricity Don’t Mix

Don’t place any electrical appliances near water, i.e., a sink or a bathtub. Appliances that are used near water should be unplugged when not in use. If you have an appliance that is wet, unplug it and don’t use it until it’s been checked by a qualified repair person.

Light Bulbs

Check the wattage of all bulbs in lighting fixtures to make sure they do not exceed the maximum wattage limit for the fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely; loose bulbs may overheat.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

GFCIs can prevent many electrocutions. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure they are working properly.


Make sure the proper type of plug is in each outlet. If you are using three-prong plugs in a room with two-conductor outlets, do not cut off the ground pin (the third/bottom prong) from the plug; this could lead to an electrical shock hazard. A better solution is to use a two-prong adapter. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit. This could lead to fire or shock. The plug should fit securely into outlets and outlets should not be overloaded.