May is Electrical Safety Month
Keep your family safe with help from those who know
At Missoula Electric Cooperative (MEC) the safety of our employees and the public that we serve is our number one priority. With summer fast approaching, and all of the outdoor activities that accompany it, it is especially important that we take time to remember to include electrical safety planning in our daily lives. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical failures are the cause of 43,900 home fires, 438 deaths, 1,430 injuries and $1.47 billion in property damage each year. In recognition of this reality, ESFI designates each May as its annual Electrical Safety Month. The theme of the 2013 campaign is Electrical safety for all ages and intends to raise awareness of steps that can be taken in the home and workplace to improve electrical safety.
Here at MEC, we provide significant safety training to our employees. Our commitment however goes beyond our staff. In order to bolster the understanding of high voltage electricity and emphasize its potential dangers, MEC offers high voltage demonstrations to area schools and first responders. In addition, we have launched a special page on our website dedicated to member safety. Under the Energy Services tab, you will find a link to that page where you can download safety related materials. Check back as new materials are added.
As summer nears, our members and their families will be spending more time outdoors. However, intense summer storms can cause trees to topple into our lines and power poles to snap. If you see a downed power line, consider it energized and dangerous. Stay away from low hanging power lines and never drive over power lines on the ground. Even if they are not energized, the lines could get entangled in your vehicle, causing further damage or injury. You may also want to call the local police or fire department to alert them so they can divert traffic until our crew arrives. If your vehicle comes into contact with power lines, the best thing to do is wait for emergency personnel to arrive. If you must exit, jump out with both feet together to a clear area and move away carefully.
Summer also marks the beginning of project season. Accidentally digging into underground electrical cables is not only dangerous; it can also disrupt service to the larger electrical system. Be sure to locate underground power lines before you begin chores such as planting a tree or building that new fence. To request a locate of underground facilities in your excavation area simply dial 811 or 800-424-5555.
Over the last few summers MEC has been working to upgrade and replace equipment in our substations. This summer, as work wraps up at our Tarkio substation we are reminded of the potential dangers of the unauthorized entry into a utility substation. News stories abound regarding break-ins and copper theft from substations across the country. We cannot stress enough how important it is to never enter an electrical substation. Substations contain thousands of volts of electricity and should only be approached by utility professionals.
For more information on ways to keep you and your family safe, visit ESFI’s website at www.esfi.org. The site provides free downloads of materials and videos to encourage electrical safety in the home and workplace.
We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!