SAFELY POWERING YOUR LIFE EVERY DAY
The electricity that powers our lives has become so commonplace that people sometimes forget the importance of using it safely. But no one makes electrical safety more of a priority than your local Touchstone Energy cooperative. We never forget, safety is a top priority. The best way to prevent accidents is to review safety steps regularly.
You can begin your preparation by assembling an emergency preparedness kit, which includes items to help keep your family safe and comfortable during a storm or outage. Your kit should include the following items:
- Drinking water and food (enough for 3 days)
- Blankets, pillows & clothing
- Cell phone and chargers
- Cash & credit cards
- Basic first-aid supplies
- Basic toiletries
- Baby supplies
- Pet food and supplies
- Important documents & phone numbers
Keep Food Safe
Keep Food Safe
Unfortunately, power outages do occur from time to time. It's important to know how to keep your food safe during an outage. Use these tips from USDA to help minimize food loss and reduce your risk of illness.
Before a power outage:
- Keep refrigerator at 40° or below. Freeze items like fresh meat and poultry that you won't use immediately.
- Keep freezer set to 0° or below. Group frozen foods to help items stay colder longer.
- If you anticipate an extended power outage, buy dry ice or block ice to keep the fridge and/or freezer cold.
During a power outage:
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed! If the doors stay closed during the length of the outage:
- A full freezer will hold its temperature for 48 hours.
- A refrigerator will keep food safe for four hours.
After a power outage:
- Check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer.
- If the temperatures are safe, the food should be safe to eat.
Foods that should be thrown out after an extended power outage:
- Meat, poultry, or seafood products
- Milk, yogurt and other dairy products
- Cooked or sliced produce
- Eggs and egg products
- Soft and shredded cheese
- Opened baby formula
- Dough and cooked pasta
What Should I Do?
What Should I Do?
- Don't panic! Check your home's breaker panel (and any outdoor disconnects) to make sure the outage is not due to a tripped breaker.
- If you determine the problem is outside your home, call Beltrami Electric at (800) 955-6083.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Food should keep for up to 48 hours in a freezer if the door remains closed. If the outage persists, Add block or dry ice or cover your refrigerator or freezer with a blanket, make arrangements to store food at another location.
- Turn off or unplug all electrical appliances that were on when the power went off, especially heat pumps, air conditioners or electric heat. This will help protect electrical equipment that could be damaged by electrical surges. Leave a light on so you know when your power is restored. Once power has been restored, slowly turn on appliances and equipment one at a time.
- If you see downed or damaged power lines, stay back and call BEC immediately at (800) 955-6083.
- NEVER WIRE A PORTABLE GENERATOR DIRECTLY INTO YOUR ELECTRICAL PANEL! - If not used correctly, portable generators can cause fatal accidents involving line workers and other near power lines.
- Don't use electrical appliances around wet areas like bathtubs or sinks. Dry your hands before using electrical appliances.
- Make sure your home has ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in the kitchen, bathrooms(s), laundry, basement, outdoors and any area near water.
- Never overload outlets. Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to electric shock. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit. Plugs should fit securely into outlets.
- Check the wattage of all bulbs in lamps and light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the lamp or fixture. Replace bulbs that have higher wattage than recommended; if you don't know the correct wattage, check with the manufacturer. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely - loose bulbs may overheat.
- Never use a product with a damaged electrical cord.
- Never use extension cords on a permanent basis.
- If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker, or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
Whether you are playing outdoors with your children or working on landscaping projects, keep a safe distance from power lines and other equipment your co-op uses to get electricity to your home.
Always remember to:
- 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 Beltrami Electric Co-op at 800-955-6083.
- Don't touch anything that may be touching a downed wire, such as a car. Keep pets and children away.
- Never use electrical equipment or power tools outdoors if it is raining or the ground is wet. Electric equipment should be kept at least 10 feet away from wet areas.
- Never trim trees or shrubs near power lines. Contact Beltrami Electric Co-op and allow us to safely perform this work.
The Safe Electricity program urges everyone to be sure that their loved ones are aware of the dangers associated with lightning and how to protect themselves.
If thunderstorms and lightning are approaching, the safest location is indoors away from doors and windows with the shades drawn. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining and you do not have to see clouds. A direct strike is not necessary for lightning voltage to enter your home through phone lines, electrical wires, cables, and plumbing.
Avoid water, electric appliances, and other objects that could conduct electricity, and use only cordless or cell phones to make emergency calls. Other recommendations to avoid lightning shock and damage include:
- Turn off and unplug appliances well before a storm nears—never during. Do not expect a surge protector to save appliances from a lightning strike, unplug it as well.
- Stay away from electrical outlets, appliances, computers, power tools, and TVs. Take off headsets and stop playing video games.
- Turn off your air conditioner to protect the compressor from a power surge and avoid a costly repair job.
- Avoid water and contact with piping—including sinks, baths, and faucets. Do not wash dishes, shower, or bathe during a thunderstorm. Also avoid washers and dryers since they not only connect with the plumbing and electrical systems but also contain an electrical path from the outside through the dryer vent.
- Do not lie on the concrete floor of a garage as it likely contains a wire mesh.
- Basements typically are a safe place to go during thunderstorms, but avoid concrete walls that may contain metal rebar.
- Don’t forget your pets. Dog houses are not lightning-safe, and dogs chained to trees can easily fall victim to a strike.
- When the storm is over, wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike you see before going outside.
Additional storm safety information can be found at SafeElectricity.org.
If you're planning a project that involves digging on your property, remember to call Gopher State One Call (811 or 1-800-252-1166) at least 48 hours before digging to have a professional safely locate underground cable for you. You can also request a locate online.
Online: Gopher State One Call Web site
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Contact at least two working days prior to excavation
Gopher State One Call services are free for homeowners
By phone: 811 or 1-800-252-1166
Collect the following information before calling:
Your name, address and telephone number
The type of work you will be doing
The address, county and intersecting street of the dig location
Where you will be digging on the property
When you plan to dig
Mark the dig area with white paint or stakes before locators arrive
Minnesota state law requires you to call
Protect yourself and others
Decrease the chance of underground damage and monetary loss
Portable generators can be very helpful to consumers during outages. But we urge you to follow these safety guidelines when using one:
- Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use. This can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including lineworkers making repairs. Have a licensed electrician install the equipment necessary to safely connect emergency generators to your home.
- Always plug appliances directly into generators. Connecting the generator to your home’s circuits or wiring must be done by a qualified, licensed electrician who will install a transfer switch to prevent backfeeding.
- Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords. Make sure extension cords are free of cuts or tears and the plug has three prongs. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage.
- Ensure your generator is properly grounded.
- Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when necessary to power essential equipment or appliances.
- Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
- Keep the generator dry. Operate it on a dry surface under an open structure.
- Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never fuel a generator while it is operating.
- Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Never cut corners when it comes to safety.
We encourage you to protect the well-being and safety of your family during outages, and safeguard those who come to your aid during emergency situations. When we work together for safety and the good of our communities, we all benefit.
Accidentally contacting a power line can be dangerous and in some cases, even deadly. Beltrami Electric Cooperative wants to help our members stay safe around power lines.
Whether you are playing outdoors with your children or working on landscaping projects, keep a safe distance from power lines and other equipment Beltrami Electric uses to get electricity to your home.
Keep Your Distance
Stay away from power lines, meters, transformers and electrical boxes.
Don’t climb trees near power lines.
Never fly kits, remote control airplanes or balloons near power lines.
If you get something stuck in a power line, call your Touchstone Energy co-op to get it.
Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas.
Downed Power Lines
- A downed power line may still be an energized power line.
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.
Call Beltrami Electric at 800-955-6083 to report downed power lines.
Vehicle Accidents and Utility Poles/Lines
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 with your feet together so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground.
Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both feet on the ground.
Call 911 immediately.
Don't touch any passenger who may be in contact with a power line.
Don't touch anything that is in contact with the vehicle.
Don't attempt to move power lines or utility poles.
If passengers must exit the vehicle, jump clear of it without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Land with feet together and shuffle away.
Don't rely on rubber boots, raincoats, rubber gloves or wire cutters for protection.
Many families will get a new pet this year. Bringing a pet into your home is an adjustment. If you are considering getting a pet, or already have one, Safe Electricity encourages you to protect your pet from electrical hazards around the home by keeping these tips in mind:
- Some pets may find a cozy warm spot near electronics to stay warm. This is not safe. Discourage your pets from doing so, and block off electronics if you must.
- Make sure all electronics are completely plugged in. A visible electric prong may attract the attention of a pet. A small nose or paw could fit in a gap between a plug and outlet.
- If you have an aquarium, make sure you create a drip loop on every electrical cord that enters the tank. This will prevent water from running down the cord and into the electrical outlet. To be sure the cord stays looped, stick a cord clip on the wall just below the outlet and thread the cord into the clip.
- If your pet shows an interest in cords, do something about it. Tuck cords where a pet cannot reach them, or string them through PVC pipe. Cords could cause an electric shock, or even kill a small pet.
- All appliances near sinks or bathtubs should be plugged into an outlet equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). Playful pets can knock radios, curling irons, and other items into the water, creating a dangerous situation. GFCIs stop the flow of electricity instantly if there is a problem, and when properly used, can save lives.
- Never let a pet sleep on top of an electric blanket.
- Pay extra attention to pet safety during the holidays. Your pets may confuse lights and decorations for new toys.
If you think your pet may have suffered an electrical shock, approach it with caution to keep from being injured by the same electrical danger and to keep from being bitten. Inspect the animal for injuries, and get your pet to an animal care center as soon as possible.
Tips for Staying Safe This Holiday Season
Gathering with family and friends during the holidays often means making great memories, reliving traditions, and sharing the spirit of the season. However, amid all the festivities, don’t forget about safety. Safe Electricity shares tips to help ensure that your holiday season—whether decorating, feasting, or traveling — remains a safe one.
Keep safety in mind when decorating the home. Ensure that your tree is placed at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces or radiators and on a stable platform. Before hanging holiday lights, check for worn spots, fraying, and excessive kinking. Damaged stands of lights should not be used. Consider investing in LED light strands. Although they are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lights last much longer and are also more efficient and durable.
Don’t get burned in the kitchen. Clean your stovetop and oven often, especially before the large amount of baking and cooking that takes place for family gatherings. Doing so will help prevent fires in the kitchen, should a malfunction or accident in the kitchen take place. Do not leave combustible items, such as towels or pot holders, near the stove top. Keep all appliance cords away from heat. Never use appliances near the kitchen sink. Plug appliances into ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. Unplug your appliances when they are not in use.
Whether you are leaving the home for a few hours or for a few weeks, turn off all lights when they are not in use. Your neighbors can still enjoy your exterior Christmas lights while you are away if you put them on an automatic timer. This will remove the extra worry of an electrical accident while also reducing energy costs. If you will be gone for an extended holiday trip, you can reduce the risk of a power surge damaging equipment by unplugging unneeded electrical devices before leaving.
From thunderstorms to tornados, ice storms to floods, natural disasters can cause destruction and power outages. It is important to be prepared with needed supplies, a plan and safety knowledge.
One of the best ways to stay one step ahead of storms, power outages, and other emergencies is to plan ahead with an emergency preparedness kit.
The exact contents of your emergency kit may vary according to the dangers and weather most relevant to your region, but Ready.gov recommends that every emergency kit contain these basic items:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Just as important as knowing how to prepare is knowing what to do during and immediately after an emergency. Some tips to keep in mind should a severe storm or flooding occur, include:
- Do not step into a flooded basement or room if the water is covering electrical outlets, appliances, or cords.
- Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box or touch an electrical appliance if you are wet or in standing water. Call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
- If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional check it out before it is used. It may need to be repaired or replaced.
- If power lines are on the ground, stay far away from them and warn others to stay away. Contact the local electric utility because the lines could still be live.
- If driving, never get out of the car if there is a downed power line, and never drive over one.
For more safety tips, visit SafeElectricity.org.