General Indoor Safety Tips

Periodically, do a quick safety check around your home to make sure your appliances and wiring are in good shape. Here’s are some tips:


  • Do not use electric appliances when you are taking a bath or standing near a sink.
  • Never use any electric appliance on a wet surface, while wet or standing in water.
  • Make sure your hands are dry when using an appliance.
  • Use electrical appliances with 3-pronged plugs.
  • Use appliances with the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) symbol.
  • Never hang clothes or place furniture near an electric heater or hot plate.
  • Keep electric heaters at least 4 feet from furniture and drapes.
  • Keep electric heaters on a level non-flammable surface.
  • Never go to sleep with a heating pad or space heater turned on.
  • Never place appliance cords where they will come into contact with the stove or other heated surfaces.
  • Unplug all electrical appliances when not in use.
  • Unplug all electrical appliances before repairing or cleaning.
  • Unplug an appliance that has fallen into the water before attempting to retrieve it.
  • Turn off a light before replacing the bulb.
  • Never pull out an electrical plug by the cord.
  • If your smoke detector runs on electricity, have a battery backup in case of a power failure.
  • Do not touch an electrical appliance with a metal object.

Wires, Fuses, & Outlets

  • Do not stick any object other than an electrical plug into an outlet.
  • Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords with new ones; you can purchase these at your local hardware store.
  • Keep electrical cords out of traffic areas in the home.
  • Keep electrical cords out from under rugs and heavy furniture.
  • Do not overload outlets with too many appliances; instead, make use of other outlets in the room.
  • Use extension cords minimally.
  • When outside, use only extension cords that are approved for outdoor use.
  • Use a long extension cord. It is better than using several shorter lengths.
  • When replacing circuit breakers and fuses, use the correct size device.
  • Protect outdoor outlets with protective, weatherproof covers.
  • Hire an electrician to install a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in your bathroom and kitchen where appliances are used near water.
  • Hire an electrician to install GFCIs on all outdoor outlets.
  • Keep outdoor wiring on a separate circuit.
  • Know the location of the main electrical switch in the home.
  • Never force a plug into an outlet.

General Outdoor Safety Tips

Here are some common misconceptions and myths about electrical safety. Take a moment to read up, and remember to share this information with your children. It could save a life!

Myth: Birds land on power lines, so they must be safe to touch.

Electricity wants nothing more than to go to ground, and will always do so by the easiest, most direct route – and all routes. Birds don’t get electrocuted when they land on wires because they don’t represent a path to the ground. But a ladder, kite, or even a wet string coming near or in contact with a power line will provide electric current with a new path to the ground. If you are touching those things, you may well become part of that path and be electrocuted or severely injured. Don’t touch!

MYTH: Power lines are insulated, so they’re safe to touch.

Most overhead power lines are not insulated. Those that are, only have enough insulation to prevent problems with incidental tree contact, but often not enough to prevent injury to people. Underground lines are insulated but not safe to touch. Be safe and don’t touch any wires!

Myth: As long as my ladder isn’t metal, it’s safe to rest on a power line.

Metal is one of the best conductors for electricity, but water is a good conductor, too. That means that any moisture on (or in) wood or another other material can conduct electricity. In fact, if something is wet or can get wet, it represents a potential hazard. Be safe – keep all ladders and other long objects away from power lines. (By the way, you are made of 70% water and are an excellent conductor.)

Myth: As long as my ladder isn’t touching overhead power lines, I’m safe.

That depends on how far away from your ladder and you are from the line. Electricity can arc and often does when a potential conductor like a metal ladder comes near it. The exact distance depends on things like weather conditions and the voltage of the power line. To be safe, stay at least 10 feet from overhead lines.

Myth: I’m only digging a few inches in the ground, I don’t need to worry about underground power lines.

Whether you are planning to build a fence, plant some perennials or dig out an old stump, it’s important to locate underground utility lines before you start digging. Call the Oregon Utility Notification Center at (800) 332-2344 at least 48 hours before you begin. Even if you are only digging a few inches, make the call. It’s free, it’s required by law, and it will prevent accidents, injuries, and service interruptions.

Myth: Springfield Utility Board (SUB) put utility equipment at ground level right in my neighborhood, so it’s safe to be around.

Those green boxes are pad-mounted transformers, and they are safe to be around. But if the equipment is damaged because of vandals, careless landscaping, or other causes, it could become a hazard. Tell children not to enter or play around with utility electrical equipment, and if you notice damage, call SUB at (541) 746-8451 immediately.