Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips

  • Don't use electric power tools or appliances in the rain or while standing in water.
  • Don't climb utility poles or transmission towers.
  • Don't throw or shoot anything at insulators.
  • Don't climb into electric substations. If you see someone climbing the fence or trespassing in a substation please all 911 or local electric service company.
  • If objects come into contact with power lines, call local electric service company.
  • Keep antennas, balloons, kites, ladders and trees away from overhead power lines.
  • Pad-mounted transformers are for underground wiring. These transformers are inside metal cabinets which are locked for your safety. Never pry them open. If you find 1 with an unlocked door, please call your local electric service company.
  • Never build a swimming pool or other structure near or under the power line leading to your house.
  • Before digging, always call OUPS at 1-800-362-2764 if you are located in Ohio.
  • If you are caught in a lightning storm, be sure to stay away from trees. Try to go indoors and keep clear of windows. Unplug the TV and other electronic appliances.


  • Listen for warning signals and know where shelters are located. 
  • Secure or tie down all loose objects and store patio furniture and propane tanks.
  • Unplug electric appliances you may not need to use. 
  • Have a home survival kit ready with these items: 5-day supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food; camp stove, lantern, and fuel; candles; change of clothing; containers of drinking water (minimum 2 quarts per person per day); extra batteries; first aid kit and special medications; flashlight; ice chest and blue-ice packs; manual can opener; masking tape for windows; matches or lighter; personal hygiene, sanitary supplies, and diapers (if needed); portable radio; sleeping bags or blankets.

Here are some actions you should take before a storm in case there is a power failure:
  • Keep the refrigerator or freezer door closed as long as possible if the power goes out.
  • Make sure that your appliances, computers, and other electronic equipment are turned off and unplugged during the time of the storm.
  • Keep some blue-ice packs frozen to help keep food from spoiling.

If you have a small generator to use as backup to the electric utility system, follow these safety tips:
  • If you want to connect the generator to the household electrical system, make sure that the residence is disconnected from the utility's electrical system at the point where the electric lines feed into the meter. A special switch needs to be installed by a qualified electrical where the generator and the electric utility serves power to the residence. This switch eliminates the possibility of 2 sources supplying electrical power to the house at the same time. The power may feed back into the lines if the generator is improperly connected. This can endanger the lives of your neighbors and the utility crews trying to restore power because they may not realize the lines are energized.
  • Make sure the capacity of the generator adequately meets the household load. You should use only those appliances that do not exceed the generator's capacity.
  • Properly ground the generator in accordance with the instruction manual.
  • Proper ventilation of the generator's exhaust and cooling systems is very important. A well-designed exhaust will minimize noise, dangerous fumes and overheating.
  • Store the reserve fuel supply in a safe place away from the generator or any other equipment that may ignite the fuel. Use only containers designed for fuel storage.

After the Storm

If your area has been without electricity, check for food spoilage when power is restored. If ice crystals are still visible in frozen meats, the meat can sometimes be safely refrozen. If food has warmed to room temperature for an indefinite period of time, it is most likely unsafe to eat. Odor, color, and appearance are not always good indicators of whether foods are safe to eat.

If your appliances became wet there is still a danger of electrical shock. It may take a week or 2 for the appliance to become completely dry. Keep it unplugged until it is completely dried. Call a technician to check for damage. Be cautious when attempting to unplug or move an appliance. Make sure the equipment and surrounding areas are completely dry before attempting to unplug or move the item.

If lines from a utility pole fall to the ground, assume they are dangerous and energized. Do not touch them and warn others to stay away. Call your utility service or 911 immediately. Never run from a fallen power line. Shuffle your way through the downed line, keeping your legs together. Shuffle away with both feet on the ground. Voltage decreases as it travels away from a line but running will cause your legs to bridge a current from higher to lower voltage and you may receive a shock.

If a power line falls on a car while you are in it, remain where you are and wait for help. If you must get out because of fire or some other hazard, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. The best practice is to stay in the car if possible.

If a pool of water is nearby, a live wire touching the ground causes electricity to fan out to the pool. Stay away from the water.
A fence or guardrail touching a downed line can be energized for several thousand yards. This can pose a danger to anyone coming into contact with these structures.

Don't try to rescue someone if they are touching a fallen line because you risk becoming a victim yourself. Call for help immediately by dialing 911 or your local electric service for all power line-related emergencies.