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Electrical Safety

Electricity is everywhere. It provides you with heat, light and power. But how does it work and where does it come from?

Power plants create and produce energy using huge machines called generators. Electricity travels to substation transformers, which reduce the voltage for distribution to neighborhoods. Finally, pole transformers near your home reduce the voltage again to allow safe use in your home.

As appliances use energy, the electricity is drawn from the wires through the meter and then into the circuit in your home.

Electricity is the power that makes modern life convenient. It can be very dangerous if used incorrectly. Be aware of electrical safety precautions.


Putting in a plug for safe outlets

Nobody overloads a circuit on purpose. All of a sudden one day you've got a dangerous octopus in the room and you don't even know it. It's a potentially hazardous situation with a simple fix. Call an electrician to install more outlets, making the room safe.

Plugs should fit securely into outlets. A loose-fitting wall outlet could cause overheating and possibly cause a fire. Call an electrician to inspect suspicious outlets.

Never overload electrical outlets. Extension cords and similar devices allow you to plug in more appliances than the outlet can support. Over time, the excess electrical load can cause the wiring to overheat and cause a fire. Instead of overloading a single outlet, have a licensed electrician install new outlets at convenient locations.


Check your electrical cords

Cords should be in good condition — not frayed or cracked — especially if you have pets. Electrical cords are covered with a special insulation made of non-conducting materials. If you plug in a damaged cord, it could give you a painful shock.

Never use extension cords as permanent household wiring. Check extension cords frequently to make sure they are not overheating. Never nail or staple cords to walls. Also, never run cords under rugs — this creates a fire hazard in your home.

Make sure to use the proper type of plug in each outlet. If you are using three-prong plugs in a room with two-prong outlets, never cut off the ground third pin or try to force a plug into an outlet. This could lead to an electrical shock hazard.


Safety from the ground up

The nature of electricity is to find the easiest path to ground. The large, round third prong automatically makes an easier path to ground and prevents accidents. Never disable safety by cutting off the third prong.

Most modern appliances come with grounding plugs. Use them in three-prong outlets, especially around areas where moisture builds up, like cellars, garages and outdoors. Expensive electronics require a three-prong outlet to protect them from power surges.


Every 10 years, renew this inexpensive insurance

One of the most crucial home safety devices is almost impossible to find. It doesn't move. It doesn't stand out.

This safety device is the electrical grounding wire. It prevents shock, fire, and damage during a major power surge, such as a lightning strike.

Grounding wires run from your meter to underground rods or to copper water pipes. Grounding wires can become corroded or damaged. As your yard settles, your lawn mower may have hit a grounding connection without your knowledge.

Grounding wires are inexpensive to replace. If your home is more than 10 years old, call an electrician to have your grounding wire checked or replaced.


Water and electricity never mix

Be sure to check that Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are installed in your kitchen and bathroom outlets.

In compliance with the National Electric Code, GFCI outlets must be installed in any area where electricity and water may come into contact (basements, garages, outdoors). In case of an accident, the GFCI can cut off the power source in less than a second, preventing electrocution. Call an electrician to properly install GFCI outlets in your home.


Electricity outdoors

One of the most accident-prone areas of your home is actually outside your house. Work safely outside by taking the proper precautions.

It is important to use heavy-duty cords marked "For Outdoor Use." Be sure the amperage rating for extension cords is higher than the amperage rating for the tool. Check labels and owner's manuals for amperage ratings. Never use indoor equipment or extension cords outside.

When using outdoor equipment or power tools, use a three-prong plug. Convert all two-prong outlets by using a three-prong adapter with a ground tab.

Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters installed in outdoor outlets and inside garages. They are the best protection between you and your power tool in the event of a mishap or contact with water.

Versant Power recommends leaving a 36-inch cleared area around your meter. Consider this when planting shrubbery, stacking firewood or installing a propane tank. Keeping this clear ensures the safety of Versant Power employees.

Electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground. Be exceptionally careful when moving ladders and overhead equipment outdoors.


Boating Safety

Ensure your safety by adding an electrical check to your list of boating precautions.

Stepping your mast or sailing anywhere near an overhead power line is dangerous. Take time to survey your marina and/or favorite launching area. Note any overhead wires and share the information with others. Make a habit of looking up to check for lines before moving or rigging your vessel. Check navigation charts for the location of submarine cables. Don't risk disturbing these cables by anchoring your boat nearby.


Teach kids to do the safe thing

Education is the best defense in preventing electrical accidents with children. Teach children to recognize "Danger — High Voltage" signs and to stay away from power lines, substations and pole transformers. Never let children play near substations or climb trees near power lines.

Electricity can travel the string of a kite or balloon that contacts power lines, causing shock. Instruct children to play with these toys in open areas away from power lines. And keep metallic balloons inside. They are highly conductive.

Teach children never to put fingers or objects into an electrical outlet, toaster or any other appliance, even if it's off. Keep appliances away from children, bathtubs and sinks. Keep plug covers in all unused outlets.

Take responsibility for teaching your children about electrical safety.


Overhanging branches can be a problem

Versant Power maintains line safety. Working on our regular five-year rotating tree maintenance schedule, Versant Power trims interfering tree limbs. Versant Power will also trim interfering limbs along the line from our pole to your home. If you believe you have interfering branches within two feet of a wire, call us for an inspection.

In a storm, a large tree branch could leave you without power. Sometimes a falling branch will break the line, causing it to dangle or fall to the ground. Never attempt to touch these lines. These "live" lines carry high voltage, and contact could lead to an electrical shock or fatality. Immediately report damaged or broken lines to Versant Power at 1-855-363-7211 or (207) 973-2000.


Don't get caught in the dark!

Plan ahead for storms and power outages. Keep flashlights with fresh batteries and a battery-powered radio handy. Don't forget to unplug major appliances, including computer equipment. When the power returns, electrical appliances need protection from surging voltage.

Store a good supply of clean water and use it sparingly. Fill pails and bathtubs for uses such as flushing the toilet.

Stock your home with nonperishable foods.. Remember it is never safe to use grills or camp stoves inside your house.

In the event of an outage in your home, check the neighborhood to see if other homes are without lights as well. If you see a downed power line, stay away. Call Versant Power immediately at 1-855-363-7211 or (207) 973-2000 to report downed lines or other power emergencies, and wait for utility workers to arrive.

Please understand that in a widespread outage it is impossible for us to get to everyone at once. Our staff works hard to restore power. First priority is given to hospitals, nursing homes, police, fire and other vital services. Stay tuned to an "Outage Alert" radio station for power restoration and safety updates. If you depend on life-support equipment, call Versant Power before the storm arrives.


Generators are a safe option during power outages

An alternative source of power, such as a generator, should be installed by an electrician. Make sure the generator has a properly installed double-throw switch that keeps the generator isolated from the utility lines at all times. This protects your home as well as line workers.


Anything attached to a utility pole could carry electricity

Even the pole itself. If a live wire comes in contact with a pole or guy wire, the entire pole can become energized.


Stay clear of downed power lines

If you see a power line down, call the local police immediately, sparks or no sparks! Stay inside, or as far away from the downed line as you can.


Never remove the grounding prong from electrical cords

The grounding prong (the round prong longer than the other two prongs) helps prevent electrical accidents in the event of a short circuit or electrical surge. Removing this prong removes this safety measure. Surge protectors also use this grounding prong to offload excess electricity in the event of a power surge.


Never cut or trim trees near power lines

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Maine Overhead High-Voltage Line Safety Act use 10 feet as a minimum safe distance from overhead power lines in most situations when pruning, trimming, repairing, maintaining, removing, or clearing of trees or brush near power lines. However, for higher voltage lines, OSHA can require a further distance from power lines for safety. If you need to do work close to the lines, please call us at 207.973.2000 so we can help you stay safe.