Staying Safe at Home and at Work

Electricity is an amazing thing. Most of the time we don’t think about it — yet it makes our lives so much more comfortable and convenient. But it’s important to remember that, if used incorrectly, electricity can also be harmful — in some cases, even fatal. To keep everyone at home and at work safe, practice these rules when using electricity or electrical equipment.

Cords and plugs

Hanging out of walls, flattened under furniture, and pulled tight around corners and under rugs, electrical cords — and plugs — can take a lot of wear and tear. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Don’t use worn or damaged cords.
  • Keep all cords away from heat and water. Never use a plug when your hands are wet or when you’re touching a metal object.
  • When pulling a plug out of an outlet, pull on the plug, not the cord.
  • When using a grounded (three-prong) plug, never break off or bypass the third prong.

Electrical devices

Make sure that any electrical device you use has a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) seal. Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Never use electrical devices near water.
  • Always unplug electrical devices when changing an attachment — for example, a light bulb in a lamp — or when you’re not using the device.
  • Keep any vents on the device clear of lint or debris — for example, on hair dryers — to prevent overheating.
  • If something gets stuck in a device — for example, a piece of bread in a toaster — always unplug it before removing the object. Never use a metal tool to remove it.
  • Never stand on a wet floor when using an electrical device.

Fuses

If a fuse blew today, would you know how to fix it — safely? These tips could help.

  • If a fuse blows, turn off all appliances and lights on the circuit board. Use a flashlight — not a candle — as your source of light.
  • Double check fuse ratings to be sure the new fuse is the same as the one you’re replacing. NEVER replace a fuse with a coin or other metal object.
  • Check fuses regularly and tighten them twice a year to prevent them from overheating.

Working outdoors

Using electricity outside means exposing it to conditions and weather that can make it unsafe. Remember these safety tips:

  • Keep outdoor electrical connections above the ground and out of puddles and snow.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters on all outdoor plugs.
  • Never place a radio or other appliance in or near water or wet surfaces.
  • Use electric lawnmowers on dry grass only. Never mow the lawn when it’s raining.
  • Always use a three-pronged extension cord for outdoor connections. Two-pronged cords are for indoor use only.
  • Keep outdoor outlets covered when not in use.
  • Keep dry leaves and other debris away from outdoor lighting and other electrical items.

Keeping children safe

Children are curious. They love to touch and play with things. Keep them safe by covering electrical outlets with child-proof outlet covers. And teach them early that electrical devices are not toys.

Power lines

If you’re working near power lines, keeping your distance from them is the first step in staying safe. And remember that working at heights around power lines can be dangerous both for the people in the air and those on the ground.

Learn more about staying safe around power lines by visiting the Power Line Safety website.

Construction sites

Construction and home renovation sites are places where electricity is used constantly. Many construction site accidents are caused when equipment like ladders, dump trucks and cranes come into contact with overhead power lines.

Make sure workers on the site are trained properly and are aware of these potential hazards. And be aware that on a construction site, you must use either ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) or assured equipment grounding conductor programs to protect your employees from the risk of electrocution or shock.

You can learn more about construction and workplace safety by visiting the Health & Safety Ontario website.

Planting trees

Planting trees is an easy way to give your property a makeover. It’s also a great way to be energy-efficient and help the environment. But remember that the small sapling you plant this year could be much, much taller in years to come. So when picking the perfect spot to plant, make sure it’s not near power lines. If you have power lines on your property, plant smaller shrubs or bushes. For existing trees, prune or trim them regularly so they don’t grow into the power lines and cause power outages. If they’re already close to or tangled in power lines, don’t touch them — have an expert trim them.

And NEVER try to remove a tree that has fallen on a power line. Instead, call our Customer Service Center at 905-273-9050.

Portable generators

Portable generators are handy devices when conventional sources of power are not available — at a cottage, for example, or when there’s a power outage. But portable generators are temporary. They’re not intended as a permanent source of electricity for your home or business. To use a generator safely:

  • The size and voltage of the generator should be based on your home’s size and energy needs.
  • Have it installed by a licensed electrical contractor. Once it’s installed, have an inspection completed by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).

Visit the ESA website for a complete list of helpful safety tips on generators.

Vehicle safety

Coming across a downed power line or driving in an electrical storm can be scary. The safest place to be is in your car. Your vehicle’s tires are made of rubber and are a grounding agent for electrical currents.

If you approach a downed power line:

  • Stay calm and, if you have a cell phone, call 911 from inside your car.
  • Wait inside the car for help to arrive.
  • Allow only emergency personnel to approach your car.
  • If you must get out of the car before help arrives, jump out with both feet together and do no touch any part of the car.
  • Move away from the car by taking small, quick steps that are close to the ground. Do not stop until you are at least 20 meters or 65 feet away from the car.

You should know that hot electrical currents can affect the performance of your tires. Do not drive your car until the tires have cooled for at least one hour and you’ve inspected them for damage. If the tires are damaged, do not drive the car. Have a licensed mechanic do a full inspection of your vehicle’s tires, hydraulic and computer systems.