At Central Texas Electric Co-op, member safety is important to us. Below is some important safety information to help keep you and your family safe.

Electricity is a potentially dangerous force that can cause injury and death if handled improperly. Knowing how to play it safe around electricity, inside and out, can prevent accidents and fatalities.

Electric energy constantly seeks a path to ground. If you touch a power line with an object or your body, you become this path. The result can be severe injury or death.

When you are working around electric power lines, follow these rules:

  • Watch where you are going or digging.

  • Stay clear.

  • Don't touch.

 

  • Always keep electrical toys, electrical appliances (hedge trimmers, leaf blowers,) grills, and other items clear of any water including swimming pools, fish ponds, rain, sprinklers, ditches and hoses. Remember that water and electricity are a dangerous combination.

  • Never put anything other than an electric plug into an electric socket. Do not put fingers, pencils or any objects into any outlet at any time and make sure that children do not do this. Safety caps available at any discount, drug or grocery store can be placed in unused outlets for safety.

  • Remove plugs from outlets by grasping the plug and not the cord. Tugging or pulling electrical cords can damage the cords and create a potential safety hazard.

  • Never use any electrical appliance or device when wet, with wet hands or when standing in water.

  • Keep fire extinguishers throughout the home and make sure that at least one of them is rated for electrical fires. Never attempt to put out an electrical fire with water.

  • In the event of electric shock, do not attempt to provide first aid but call 9-1-1 for professional medical help immediately.

  • Stay away from power lines, meters, transformers and electrical boxes.

  • Don’t climb trees near power lines.

  • Never fly kites, remote control airplanes, drones or balloons near power lines.

  • If you get something stuck in a power line, call CTEC to get it.

  • Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas.

  • Never touch or go near a downed power line.

  • Don’t touch anything that may be touching a downed wire, such as a car.

  • Keep children and pets away.

 

When power lines are down, residents can restore energy to their homes or other structures by using another power source such as a portable generator. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.

If it is necessary to use a portable generator, manufacturer recommendations and specifications must be strictly followed. If there are any questions regarding the operation or installation of the portable generator, a qualified electrician should be immediately contacted to assist in installation and start-up activities. The generator should always be positioned outside the structure.

When using gasoline- and diesel-powered portable generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the "off" position prior to starting the generator. This will prevent power lines from being inadvertently energized by backfeed electrical energy from the generators, and help protect utility line workers or other repair workers or people in neighboring buildings from possible electrocution. If the generator is plugged into a household circuit without turning the main breaker to the “off” position or removing the main fuse, the electrical current could reverse, go back through the circuit to the outside power grid, and energize power lines or electrical systems in other buildings to at or near their original voltage without the knowledge of utility or other workers.

Effects of Backfeed

The problem of backfeed in electrical energy is a potential risk for electrical energy workers. Electrocutions are the fifth leading cause of all reported occupational deaths. Following the safety guidelines below can reduce this risk.

Other Generator Hazards

Generator use is also a major cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators should only be used in well ventilated areas.

 

If you plan on doing any digging on your property, it is very important to have all underground utilities located prior to the project to prevent costly and potentially dangerous underground lines.

Whether you are digging for a flower bed, a fence post or a swimming pool, find out if there are any electric or utility lines in the area.  Simply dial 811 or visit texas811.org, it is free and it is the law.

 

If you have tree limbs on your property that are leaning into or hanging over the power lines or you are worried about a tree that is dead and ready to fall and could land in the power lines please call us before removing them. Our experienced line workers and hired contractors will trim the necessary branches.

 

If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line. Call or ask someone to call the local cooperative and emergency services.

The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car that is in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire. Open the door. Do not step out of the car. You may receive a shock. Instead, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Do not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.  Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both feet on the ground.

As in all power line related emergencies, call for help immediately by dialing 911 or call your electric utility company's Service Center/Dispatch Office.

Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on the ground.

 

Reporting An Outage

Check your fuses or circuit breakers to determine that the trouble is not in your own system.
 
Check to see if your neighbors have power. This will help CTEC determine whether the trouble is caused by a transformer serving your home or is more general in nature.
 
During a large outage, our telephone lines can become overloaded.  On call crews update the on hold messages to reflect current outage information. 

To report an outage call 1-800-900-2832 or use our SmartHub app

For continual updates on outage statuses, follow us on Facebook

 

  • Check all circuit breakers or fuses to make sure that the outage is not a household problem.

  • Make sure you have flashlights, portable radios, and fresh batteries in an easy to access place.

  • Have plenty of bottled water available.

  • If you burn candles, keep them away from flammable materials.

  • Keep a freshly charged fire extinguisher nearby.

 

  • Never use an outdoor lantern inside your home.

  • Do not go to sleep with candles still burning.

  • Never touch or even go near a fallen utility line. You should always assume that any fallen line is energized.  Also, if a fallen line has come into contact with an object, do not touch that object. Call us immediately to report any downed lines: 1-800-900-CTEC (2832) or 830-997-2126.

  • Do not operate heaters or fuel-fired cook stoves without proper ventilation.

  • Never burn charcoal indoors, it releases carbon monoxide.

 

When outages occur in cold weather, having a well-insulated home, storm windows and sealing your windows and doors will help keep your home warmer. Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible.

Food will stay frozen about 36 to 48 hours in a fully-loaded freezer if you do not open the door. If the freezer is only partially filled, the amount of time drops to about 24 hours. During winter months you can store food in an unheated part of your home such as a garage or outside in a cooler.

 

Individuals who rely on electrically powered oxygen or other medical equipment should always have their own personal backup plan in case of power outages and other potential emergencies. While we work hard to provide reliable electric service, we cannot guarantee the power will never fail.

 

Prepare an outage kit to have on hand before any outages occur. A fully stocked outage kit will be crucial if extended outages occur.  Here are some ideas of what a kit can include:

  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights & fresh batteries
  • Emergency supplies of water
  • Non-perishable, easily-prepared foods
  • Drinking water
  • Manual, non-electric can & bottle openers
  • Candles, matches/lighters
  • Portable heater (gas or oil)
  • Camping equipment
  • Charger for cell phone or laptop
  • Cooler
  • Blankets & pillows
  • Cash
  • Medications & personal hygiene products
  • Non-cordless phone
  • First-aid kit
  • Pet supplies
  • Fire extinguisher & smoke alarm
  • Family & emergency contact list
  • Hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and toilet paper.
  • Books, deck of cards or games

 

Other ways to be prepared:

  • Sign up for our SmartHub app, it is the best way to report outages and stay informed about the restoration process.
  • Have an exit plan, if you are unprepared for extended outages you need to have a place to go where you can be safe.
  • If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup.  It is also a good practice to keep a charging bank in full power to charge cell phones or other devices if needed.
  • If you have a fireplace or woodstove, keep kindling and dry firewood on hand.
  • When there is impending dangerous weather, fill your bathtub with water if your supply depends on electricity.
  • Fill up your vehicles with gas in the event that you need to evacuate or relocate to another area; and if you use a portable generator, fill up fuel cans.
  • Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the freezer, you can use them to help keep food cold during a power outage as it thaws out to drink. 
  • Fill bathtubs or large containers or tubs with water before bad weather for extra water.
  • Winterize vehicles, not just automobiles. 
  • To help prevent burst pipes, close any shut-off valves that lead to outside faucets and drain excess water from the lines.  Also, drain lines in unheated areas of your home like the attic. 

 

Pets and Livestock

  • Keep extra pet food on hand or in your emergency outage kit.
  • Keep plenty of freshwater for your pets.
  • For smaller livestock water troughs, you can place floating objects in water to keep them from completely icing over and make removing built-up ice easier. 
  • Filling jugs with saltwater and enough air to float can make an automatic waterer function since the water around the jug will not freeze. 
  • For livestock tanks, have equipment and/or tools available to drill or bust holes to allow for watering.
  • ">
  • Before calling the co-op during a power outage, check your home's panel box. A blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker could be at fault.
  • If you've determined that the source of the interruption is outside your home, report your outage at once. Outages can be reported:
    • By using our SmartHub app or by phone at 1-800-900-2832

 

During an Extended Outage

  • We will provide updates whenever possible on our website and Facebook. Do not use Facebook to report outages. 
  • Turn off large electric appliances and equipment so that lines are not overloaded when power is restored.
  • Use caution and be sure to have adequate ventilation when operating generators, lanterns, heaters, and fuel-fired cookstoves.
  • If you use a generator, have it installed by a certified electrician. Improperly installed generators may feed energy back into the distribution lines, endangering our linemen and others. 
  • Watch weather reports closely.  If the weather is expected to worsen or outages are prolonged, consider staying with friends, family, or in a local shelter.
  • If you are safely able, check on elderly relatives, neighbors, and friends to make sure they’re safe, especially if they live alone.

 

Keeping Cool:

  • If it's a hot time of year, dress in loose, lightweight clothing and stay on the coolest, lowest level of your home.
  • Use natural ventilation to cool homes, and consider purchasing battery-powered fans.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid heavy meals, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol.
  • Close all drapes and blinds on the sunny side of your residence.
  • Take your family and pets to a basement or other cool location if you have one. Also, consider going to an air-conditioned public place during warmer daytime hours.

 

Keeping Warm:

  • Stay inside, and dress warmly. Staying warm is a priority. Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight warm clothing. Wear hats, mittens, and scarves.
  • Close off unneeded rooms to keep the heat in your living areas.
  • Place a draft block at the bottom of doors to minimize cold drafts from entering the house.
  • When using an alternative heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards, and be sure to properly ventilate. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby, and know how to use it.
  • Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants and people over the age of 65 are often more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.
  • Keep your faucets on a slow drip to keep pipes from freezing. Catch the dripping water in a clean container, sink, or tub. If your pipes freeze, turn off the main water supply to prevent further damage.
  • Don’t use your stove or oven for heat. Gas stoves and ovens produce carbon monoxide, and electric ones pose a fire risk when not used as designed.

 

Maintaining Food:

  • Keep refrigerator or freezer doors closed. A freezer that is half full or full can keep foods frozen 24 to 48 hours. Foods can stay safe in an unopened refrigerator for up to four hours. If an outage lasts longer than four hours, remove and pack meat, milk and other dairy products in a cooler with ice.
  • Maintain food supplies that do not require refrigeration.
  • Use safe alternative food preparations. A barbecue grill is an excellent way to prepare food. Always grill outside.

 

Stay Away From Downed Power Lines

When outside, stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard. Treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Lines do not have to be arcing or sparking to be live. Warn others to stay away and call 911 or contact us.

 

When in Doubt, Throw it Out

Throw out perishable food in your refrigerator that is above 40 degrees.  If food has an unusual color or smell, discard it.