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Overloaded electrical circuits are a major cause of residential fires. Warning signs of overloaded circuits include flickering, brightening or dimming lights, warm or discolored wall plates, frequently tripped circuit breakers or a mild shock from appliances, receptacles or switches. To prevent this, never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances. All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. And never plug more than one heat-producing appliance into the same wall plug at the same time.

Stay away from underground transformers, substation fences and any other electrical equipment. If for some reason a pet, ball, toy or anything else of yours ends up inside a substation, do not attempt to climb the fence to retrieve it. Contact the owner of the substation using the information listed on the gate for assistance. (67041001)

Keep children away from electrical outlets. Plastic outlet protectors are a great way to protect smaller children from outlets, but installing electrical outlets designed to remain closed until a plug is inserted is a safer bet. Keep loose cords out of children’s reach and out of the walking path. Cords within the child’s reach pose a choking hazard, while cords on the ground could cause a child to trip and fall.

When was the last time you checked that your circuit box was labeled correctly? Knowing which areas of your home are serviced by which circuit breakers is crucial in case of an emergency. You never know when you might need to shut off the power. Take a few minutes to correctly label the circuit breakers in your home so that you can be prepared if you experience an electrical short circuit. 

When not used correctly, extension cords can overheat and cause fires. Be sure to thoroughly inspect the extension cord for any damage before using it. If your cord is not quite long enough for your project, do not attempt to plug extensions cords into one another to add length. Buying a longer cord is the safer option. Running cords through doorways, floors and under rugs will block heat from escaping the cord, posing a fire risk. We recommend relocating outlets when necessary rather than using extension cords. And when using cords outdoors, be sure to keep them away from water, and use a GFCI outlet.

When working outside, be aware that there may be power lines above you and beneath you. If you are planning a project that requires digging, call 811 to get utility lines marked on your property so you know what areas to avoid. If you are working on your roof or trimming trees, be sure to stay at least 20 feet away from overhead power lines. Getting too close to a power line can be just as dangerous as touching a power line, as electricity can arc from the power line to a close object. (200565001)

Doing at-home projects yourself instead of calling a professional can sometimes save you money. But with electricity, we recommend you call the professional. Important safety measures must be taken when working with electricity and even the slightest mistake can end in damage to your home or electrical shock. While it might not be the most cost-effective option, it may be the safer way to complete your project. (47316001)

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