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Special Guest Blogger Carol Obando-Derstine

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The PPL Electric Utilities crews working to help restore power in Puerto Rico deal with some unique safety challenges they don’t usually see in Pennsylvania – like steep, jungle-like hillsides and extremely narrow roads. 

That’s why one of our top safety leaders is in Puerto Rico alongside the work crews. He’s visiting job sites, leading discussions of work conditions and making sure everyone is focused on doing the job safely. 

Safety is the most important part of our daily work in Pennsylvania, too. Our crews meet before the job starts to talk through the work plan, discussing what could go wrong and how to prevent it. And they’re encouraged to call a timeout during the work if something doesn’t look right. 

We want our customers to take a safety-first attitude toward electricity too. Even at household voltage levels, electricity can be dangerous if electrical equipment is damaged or used improperly. 

You don’t have to wear heavy rubber gloves, hard hats or safety vests, like our line workers do. Just keep these tips in mind around your home: 

Extension cords: Check them regularly, and replace them if they develop cracks or wear in the insulation. Use them in places where people won’t step on them or drive over them. And don’t string more than one together. 

Home and kitchen appliances: Replace them if they develop loose or unreliable switches or frayed power cords, because frayed wires cause fires.

 Your home electrical system: Overloaded electrical circuits can cause fires. Some signs that circuits are overloaded include flickering or dimming lights; frequent blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers; warm wall plates; or crackling, sizzling, buzzing, or a burning odor coming from outlets or switches. Don’t ignore these warning signs.

 Also, unless you’re a trained electrician, it’s probably a good idea to hire one to do any kind of rewiring or other electrical upgrade in your home. The risk of electrical shock, fire or other hazards is not worth the money saved by trying to do the job yourself.

 Yard projects: If you’re planning a project that involves digging, call Pennsylvania 811 at least three business days in advance of the work. Someone will come to your home and mark the location of underground utility lines. Digging into utility lines could shock you, not to mention disrupting service to your property. 

Also, stay at least 10 feet clear of power lines on your property. If you’re carrying a ladder, be sure it doesn’t touch a line. 

Downed lines: We invest to keep our delivery system strong, so you’re unlikely to see a downed electrical line, unless there’s an ice storm or someone drives into a pole. If you see one, report it to us immediately at 1-800-DIAL-PPL (342-5775). Stay well clear of it, and keep kids and pets away as well. Always assume a fallen line is still carrying power. 

PPL’s field employees train hard and stay focused so the high voltages they work with don’t cause injury or property damage. A little attention on your part can do the same for you at home. 

Some of these tips were provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (