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.
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 your 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.
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.
Power Line Hazards and Cars
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.
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
Safety Checklist of Do’s
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.
Safety Checklist of Don'ts
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.
Heat, Water and Food
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.
Personal Emergency Plans
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.