Safety is the No. 1 priority at Tampa Electric. Around electrical infrastructure of all kinds, our message to you is simple: for your own safety, never touch power lines, climb on power poles, play on transformers, or tamper with equipment in any other way.
If you see what looks like trouble with electrical equipment – a downed power line, tree branches growing into wires, an open transformer or something like that – or when in doubt, keep your distance and let us know right away.
Electrical fires in our homes claim lives year after year. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Remember these tips for a safer home. Take time to walk through your house and look for potential problems.
- Plugs should fit securely into outlets, and outlets should not be overloaded. If plugs seem to fit loosely into a wall outlet, the wall outlet needs repair. Have an electrician check the outlet.
- Water and electricity don't mix. Don't place any electrical appliances near water. Never reach into water to get an appliance that has fallen in without first unplugging the appliance.
- Make sure the proper plug type is in each outlet. Never force a plug into an outlet if it does not fit. A better solution is to use a two-prong adapter.
- Check the wattage of all light bulbs in lighting fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the size of the fixture.
- Make sure extension cords are in good condition - not frayed or cracked. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas. Don't run electrical cords underneath rugs, carpets or furniture and never nail or staple them to walls or baseboards.
- Check to see that extension cords are not overheated. Only use extension cords on a temporary basis; they are not safe as permanent household wiring.
- Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) can prevent many electrocutions. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact, like kitchens or bathrooms. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they are working properly.
- Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct sizes for the circuits. If one appliance repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, or if it has emitted an electric shock, unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
- When using a space heater, keep it away from drapes, furniture and other flammable materials and don't leave it on all night.
- If you use an extension cord, be sure it's heavy duty and in good condition. And, make sure the cord is rated to handle the power your space heater requires. Don't use household-type extension cords with your space heaters.
- Avoid using your space heater in the bathroom and never touch the heater when you're around water.
- Make sure your space heater has an automatic switch that turns off the electric current if the unit is tipped over.
- When using electric blankets, look for cracks or breaks in the wiring. To prevent excessive heat buildup, make sure nothing covers your electric blanket. Never "tuck in" the sides or ends of your electric blanket.
- Unplug your toaster or toaster oven before using a knife or fork to remove stuck bread or bagels.
- Be safe and save energy: Remember to unplug chargers and other electrical items when they are not in use.
Follow these safety tips when you're working outside and around your home. Don't forget to call before you dig to avoid cutting utility lines.
- Never remove the third prong of a three-pronged plug. A better solution is to use a two-prong adapter.
- Use only weather-resistant, heavy gauge extension cords marked "For Outdoor Use," and make sure it is the proper rating for your equipment.
- Never remove safety guards from lawnmowers, power tools, etc.
- Use safety goggles when operating lawn equipment and wear appropriate safety gear as suggested in power tool manuals.
- Keep cords out of your path or work area.
- Use caution when operating electrical equipment around water. If an electrical tool comes in contact with water, unplug it first. Do not reach into the water for it.
- Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) can prevent many electrocutions. They should be used in any area where water and electricity may come into contact – near pools, spas or fountains. Test GFCIs regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to make sure they are working properly.
- Unless you are a qualified electrician, never try to repair electrical products yourself.
It's easy to get caught up in the holiday rush. It's also easy to forget to put safety on your list of things to remember. At Tampa Electric, where safety is a top priority, we offer these tips to follow in and around your home:
- Make sure your holiday lights and cords are in good condition (no broken lights or frayed cords).
- Never string holiday lights on or near power lines.
- Never use indoor lights outside.
- Be sure to turn all holiday lights off before going to bed or leaving home.
- Never place electric cords under a rug or door, or around a sharp edge or corner.
- Don't overload electrical outlets.
- Keep all cords away from "traffic lanes" in your home.
- If you have a natural Christmas tree, make sure it has enough water to keep branches from drying out, which can pose a fire hazard.