Used with care, electricity is safe and improves our quality of life. But it can
cause death or injury if used improperly. Remember that electricity always seeks
a path to the ground. If you become part of that path to ground, you are in danger
of electrocution or serious injury.
The Eugene Water & Electric Board offers these tips to keep you safe inside and
outside your home:
Using common sense can keep you safe from accidental shock or electrocution:
- Never mix water and electricity. That means do not allow a hair dryer, radio or
other electronic device to be used around water – expecially the bathtub.
- Make sure bathroom outlets have a ground fault interrupter, or GFI, device installed.
The GFI will trip the electric circuit if a fault is detected.
- Replace cut, punctured or worn electric cords. Never run a cord under a rug or through
a wet area.
- Use three-pronged plugs. The third prong grounds the circuit and prevents shocks.
- Don't mess with breaker panels or fuse boxes. If a circuit trips and you are not
sure why, call a licensed electrician.
- If an appliance is sparking or buzzing, turn it off and get it fixed or replaced.
- Never overload a circuit. Big multiple-plug devices lead to overloading and the
possibility of a fire.
- Make sure portable space heaters have automatic shutoff devices should it tip over.
- Never stick a fork or knife in a plugged-in toaster to retrieve a stuck piece of
- Always unplug electric devices before doing repairs.
Eugene has an abundance of trees, but the leading cause of accidental contact with
power lines in Oregon is tree trimming or tree removal. Follow these common sense
- Look up! If you see a wire in the area where you want to work, call EWEB at (541)
- Don't build a tree house in trees with power lines in them or near them.
- Don't prune a limb that is near or touching a wire. Tree limbs contain water and
can conduct electricity.
- If possible, let a professional do your tree trimming.
- Although the "service" wire (from the transformer to the connection at your house)
usually is insulated, never consider it safe to work around. The insulation can
be worn, creating a hazard.
- Remember that metal ladders and other tree-trimming equipment are excellent conductors
of electricity. Stay clear of wires.
For more information on tree pruning and selection, go to the tree maintenance section
of the web site.
Most outdoor electrical accidents result from contact with overhead electric conductors.
Here are some tips:
- One more time: Look up. You don't actually have to touch a wire to get shocked by
an overhead line. Electricity can jump to a good conductor, such as a metal ladder,
if it gets too close to an energized wire.
- Always keep yourself and metal objects at least 10 feet away from power lines.
- Always use grounded, three-prong extension cords outside.
- Ground Fault Interrupters, or GFIs, are a good investment for all outdoor circuits.
- If you plan to dig more than 12 inches underground, call the Oregon Utility Notification
Center at 800-332-2344. This free service, funded by EWEB and other utilities, locates
underground utilities prior to your digging.
It isn't uncommon to find yourself away from home when a storm hits, causing power
lines to fall. Never go near a downed power line. Treat all lines as dangerous until
a utility crew arrives and deals with it. Other tips:
- If a wire falls on your car, stay inside it. If you attempt to get out and one foot
touches the ground, an electrified line on your car will complete a circuit to the
ground. You can be electrocuted.
- You don't have to touch a wire to be electrocuted. Electrical current can flow through
water, metal or wet ground. If you are too close, you can be hurt or killed.
- Never shoot at power line insulators.
- Never fly a kite near power lines, and never go into a tree near wires to retrieve
a stuck kite.
- If you have a sailboat, always be aware of overhead power lines near marinas or
areas where you will have the mast in the upright position.