Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips

Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips

  • Boat & Dockside Safety
  • Call Before You Dig Safety
  • Generator Safety
  • Landscaping Safety
  • Outdoor Workplace Safety

Boat & Dockside Safety

Be aware of your surroundings and potential electrical hazards in or near water. Check the location of nearby power lines and electrical wires above and below the water before boating, fishing or swimming. Always maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between your boat and nearby power lines.

  • Don’t allow yourself or anyone else to swim near the dock. Avoid entering the water when launching or loading your boat. Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water, causing water electrification.
  • If you feel a tingle while swimming, the water may be electrified. Get out of the water as soon as possible avoiding the use of metal objects such as ladders. Notify the owner of the property immediately, as this tingle is a sign that power to the facility should be turned off until a proper inspection has been completed.
  • Have your boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician regularly to be sure they meet your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety code and standards.
  • Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installed on your boat and insist that marina/dock owners have them installed on the dock. Test them once a month.
  • Use “UL- Marine Listed” portable GFCIs when using electricity near water. They will decrease the chances of shock or electrocution.
  • Consider having Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCI) installed on boats to protect nearby swimmers from potential electricity leakage into water surrounding your boat.
  • Only use shore or marine power cords, plugs, receptacles, and extension cords that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or ETL SEMKO (ETL). They are specifically designed to keep you safe when using them near water.

Call Before You Dig

The current building trend is to bury utilities underground. That’s why it’s important to know what’s below before you dig. Utilities, such as electric, gas, communications, water, and sewer, may be buried on your property. Contact with these utility service lines can lead to a serious injury, or even death.

Missouri has a law in place to protect the public, prevent electrical contact incidents and avoid utility service disruption. The Missouri Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention statute (RSMo Chapter 319 requires all persons who plan to dig to contact the Missouri One Call System at (800) 344-7483, call 811, or complete a request online at www.mo1call.com. The request must be made at least 48 hours prior to digging.

Missouri One Call will then contact member utility companies, who will then go out and mark their underground facilities. When it is determined that markings are required, the locate request will be dispatched to a field locator who will locate and mark the excavation site with paint, stakes, or flags.

Missouri One Call member utilities mark their facilities according to specific guidelines and color codes. Here is an abbreviated reference:

  • Red: Electricity
  • Yellow: Gas
  • Orange: Communication
  • Blue: Potable water
  • Purple: Reclaimed water, irrigation
  • Green: Sewers
  • Fluorescent Pink: Temporary survey markings
  • White: Proposed excavation

Upon agreement of the excavator and the facility owner, locates may be provided by alternative means such as an on-site meeting or other conference. Either party may request an on-site meeting to clarify markings, which must occur within 2 working days of the request for this meeting.

Safe digging is everyone’s responsibility. Notify Missouri One Call to help prevent damages that may result in fines, utility service interruption and injury or even death. To learn more about digging safely visit: www.mo1call.com.

Generator Safety

Before you use a portable generator, thoroughly read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid dangerous shortcuts and ensure the safe operation of your generator.

Do not wire your generator directly to your breaker panel or fuse box. The power you generate may flow back or “back feed” into power lines and cause severe injuries, or even kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.  If you seek a more permanent generator installation, hire a licensed electrician to connect the generator to your house wiring using a transfer switch. This can prevent generator back-feed that endangers others, and prevent damage to your generator and appliances when utility power is restored.

Set up the generator outdoors, away from all open windows — including neighbors’ windows — to prevent deadly exhaust from entering a home or business. Consider using a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm to be alerted if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous.

Connect appliances directly to the generator. If any connected appliance has a three-prong plug, always use a three-prong extension cord. Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.

In addition:

  • Use heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use to operate the generator safely outdoors.
  • Don't touch a generator if you are wet or are standing in water or on damp ground.
  • Never refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Ensure you have plenty of gas for operation. Store it in a safe location in appropriate gas containers.
  • Don’t leave a running generator unattended; turn it off at night and when away from home.

To learn more about generator safety visit: www.safeelectricity.org.

Landscaping Safety

Never prune trees near electric lines. Contact Cuivre River Electric at (800) 392-3709, ext. 4398 first to inspect trees that may be a threat to power lines.

Check trees annually if they have the potential to become power line hazards on your property. For expert advice on tree health or hazards, consult an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. When selecting trees for your property, choose the best tree for your location. Learn more about good tree choices at www.arborday.org.

Call 8-1-1 before you plant. You can disrupt utility service — and even put your life in danger — just by failing to locate natural gas, electric and other underground utility lines. These utilities should be clearly marked before you plant that new tree, set that fence post, or build that deck. Contact Missouri One Call System at 811 before you dig - it’s the law!

Be aware of and never strike underground power lines, conduit or other equipment while doing landscaping and lawn work.

Outdoor Workplace Safety

Always assume power lines are live. This applies to power lines on utility poles, as well as those near homes and buildings. Even though you may notice a covering on a line, never assume it is safe to touch. Even momentary contact with power lines can cause injury or death.

Keep all cranes, scaffolding and high reaching equipment away from power lines. Contact with a power line can cause serious burns or electrocution. Remember to work a safe distance from all power lines. Prior to any excavation activity, make sure to call before you dig so underground lines can be marked.

When performing construction activities, keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines and 25 feet from transmission tower lines. Use a spotter to ensure compliance with the line clearance. If clearance cannot be obtained, contact Cuivre River Electric at (800) 392-3709, ext. 4391 to de-energize the lines.

Exercise precautions when using ladders or cleaning near a service drop.

Be cautious around guy wires that support utility poles. Be careful not to run over or into them with equipment or vehicles.

Keep yourself and others away from any downed power lines.

Contact Cuivre River Electric at (800) 392-3709, ext. 4390 if you see a downed power line.