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The mission of Middle Tennessee Electric is to provide affordable, reliable, safe electricity and outstanding member service. A key component of that mission is safety, and it’s something MTEMC takes very seriously. With more than 11,000 miles of electric line in four counties, we make it a priority to educate the communities we serve about power line safety.
Electrical Safety At Home
Electrical Injuries and Deaths Are Not "Freak Accidents"
You can learn to prevent them
Most people think injuries happen by chance or "accident" - a word that implies something that can't be foreseen or avoided. But electrical injuries typically can be both foreseen and avoided. Electricity is so easy to use that you probably take it for granted. But you might be surprised to learn that each year, electricity-related incidents in the home cause approximately:
- 200 electrocutions
- 4,000 shock injuries
- 45,000 fires
Understanding electricity will help you prevent electrical injuries at home.
Electricity in Your Home
Your Home Wiring
Your home wiring is just a number of loops, or circuits. A "live" wire brings current to a light or an outlet. A "neutral" wire returns current to its source. Between inside wiring and outside power lines is a service panel.
Turning Power Off
Most service panels have a main switch. Use it to cut all power when changing a fuse 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 shock, explosion, or fire.
Your Service Panel
Your service panel contains fuses or circuit breakers that interrupt power to specific circuits in case of a short circuit or overload. If this happens:
- Unplug appliances.
- Switch off power at the main switch.
- Try to determine the cause of the problem and correct it if possible.
- Replace the fuse that has a broken metal strip with a new fuse of the same rating - typically 15 amperes.
- If you have circuit breakers instead, switch the one that's "off" to "on."
- Restore power.
Never use anything other than a fuse to replace a fuse - you could cause a fire. If fuses blow or circuit breakers trip often, contact a qualified repairman.
The Shocking Facts
How Shock Happens
Electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground. It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wet wood, water - or your body! Your body is 60-70% 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.
It Doesn't Take Much
The amount of electricity used by one 7.5-watt holiday light can kill you if it passes through your chest.
Stop Shock Before It Stops You
Grounding: The Third Wire
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 case of a short circuit, electricity should flow through the grounding system instead of through you. Never remove the third prong.
Use GFCIs for Extra Protection
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are found in some 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. Use GFCIs in bathrooms and garages, near kitchen sinks, and outdoors.
Remember the most important rule for appliances - electricity and water don't mix. Keep appliances, especially hair dryers, away from bathtubs, puddles, sinks, and wet hands. Wet skin increases the risk of shock, so unplug an appliance before cleaning - even if off, it can shock. Never put metal objects in live parts of appliances or in outlets. If an appliance overheats, unplug it and have it checked. Don't overload outlets. Use only appliances that are approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
Electrical Safety for Children
Children's natural curiosity can lead them into serious electrical accidents. Teach children never to put fingers or objects into an electrical outlet, toaster, or any other appliance, even if it's off. Keep appliances and cords away from children, bathtubs, and sinks. Use plug covers in outlets.
Electricity can travel down the strings of kites or balloons that contact power lines, and cause shock or fire. Have children use these toys in open areas, away from overhead lines. Keep metallic balloons away, as they are highly conductive. Tell children that if a toy gets into a power line or substation, they should tell an adult ot call the power company and should never retrieve it themselves.
Power Lines and Electrical Equipment
Teach children to recognize "Danger - High Voltage" signs and to stay away from power lines, substations, and pad-mounted transformers. Don't let kids climb trees near power lines.
Call Before You Dig
Call your underground utility locator service at 811 well in advance of digging or moving earth in anyway. They will arrange to mark buried power lines and other utilities so you can dig a safe distance away.
Safety Demo Trailer
A team of Middle Tennessee Electric employees constructed a high voltage electrical safety demonstration trailer to be used at local community events to better educate about the dangers of electricity.
The 30-minute demonstration shows the dangers of objects coming in contact with energized lines, improperly connected generators, electrical arc flash and faults, as well as other hazardous situations. The electrical safety education program is available during local and community events and to our first responders and emergency management personnel.