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Electrical safety: knowledge is power

To mark Electrical Safety Month in May, experts from the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative, which powers more than 60,000 homes and businesses in St. Charles, Lincoln, Pike and Warren counties, recently shared some important information about electrical hazards in the home and how to avoid them.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, exposure to electrical current levels as low as 3 milliamps [.003 amps] can cause injury. Currents between 100 and 200 milliamps [0.1 and 0.2 amps] are lethal. The most common product categories associated with electrocutions at home are small appliances such as hair dryers, lamps and toasters; large appliances; and power tools.

“Knowledge is key when it comes to electrical safety,” said Amber Sabin, Safe Electricity Advisory Board member. “Knowing what to look out for, and knowing the safe steps to take, can make all the difference in preventing accidents.”

The following are safety tips to help arm families with the knowledge they need to stay safe around electricity:

  • Always read and understand the operator’s manual before using an appliance or tool.
  • Make sure the electrical appliance, tools and cords you plan to use have been certified for safety by laboratories, like UL, ETL or CSA.
  • Never use a product with a damaged electrical cord.
  • Never use extension cords on a permanent basis, and only use extension cords properly rated for the devices you plan to plug into it.
  • Install tamper-resistant outlets or protective outlet covers to keep small children safe.
  • If outlets are warm to the touch, immediately shut them off at the circuit breaker, and contact a qualified electrician to make repairs.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters [GFCIs] in areas that may be wet or damp. GFCIs help protect against electrical shock. Use the “test” and “reset” button monthly to ensure they are working properly.
  • Never use electrical power tools outdoors if it is raining or the ground is wet.
  • If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
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