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Electricity keeps our lives running and is something we are around on a daily basis. If not treated with caution and respect, electricity can cause severe injuries. Whether you are at home, or out and about, it’s important to keep electrical safety in mind. With this safety information, we hope to help you make everyday a safe day.
  

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anticipate & prevent electrical hazards

​Electricity always seeks all paths to ground. It will use any conductor - metal objects, wet wood, water, or your body. If you touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground causing a harmful, possibly fatal, shock.

The amount of electricity used by one 7.5 watt Christmas tree bulb can kill you if it passes through your chest. Even if not fatal, electrical shock can easily cause serious burns, falls, cuts or internal bleeding.

Overhead power lines are typically not insulated and are located high off the ground for safety reasons. Substations and transformers contain energized parts that are very dangerous to touch. Underground power lines, while well insulated, can be easily damaged by a shovel or pick and create a shock or flash hazard.

Birds can sit on a power line and not get shocked because they are not touching the ground or any other grounded object. But if you or the metal ladder or antenna you’re holding touches the same line, you’ll become electricity’s instant path to ground and risk a potentially fatal injury.

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understanding your home’s electric service

​Our power supply grid connects to your home through the service entrance -- your circuit breaker box or fuse box. Inside the box, your service panel contains fuses or circuit breakers which stop power to specific circuits in case of a short circuit or overload.

​If there is a short circuit or overload in your home and a circuit breaker or a fuse trips, you should:

  • unplug appliances on that circuit.
  • switch off power at the main switch
  • replace the fuse that has a broken metal strip with a new fuse of the same rating.
  • if you have circuit breakers, locate the one that is tripped and switch it to the “off” position, then to the “on” position.
  • try to determine the cause of the problem.
  • restore power. Never put a penny or metal foil in a fuse box to replace a fuse -- you could start a fire. Most service panels have a “master” or “main” switch. Use it to cut all power when changing a fuse (or in the case of a fire) to prevent electrical shock. If you don’t have a main switch, turn off all circuit breakers. Do not tamper with your electric meter. Doing so will risk shock, explosion and fire.

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is your home wiring adequate?
  • ​Do fuses or circuit breakers trip often?
  • Do toasters or irons not get as hot as they should?
  • Does your TV picture shrink or flicker when large appliances go on?
  • Do you use extension cords because there aren’t enough outlets?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, check with a qualified electrical contractor about updating your home’s wiring.


​grounding & gfcis

When using a plug or extension cord equipped with three prongs, the third prong connects inside the outlet to a ground wire, which in turn connects with a water pipe or ground rod located near the electrical service panel. As a result, any short circuit in the tool or device attached to the plug should cause electricity to flow directly to the ground rather than through you.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are found in some outlets and electrical service panels. They monitor the flow of electricity to and from appliances.

 

If there’s an imbalance in that flow, electricity may be able to travel to ground through you, and the GFCI will quickly cut power to prevent this from happening.

GFCIs:

  • are required in newer homes in “wet” areas such as in bathrooms, garages, near kitchen sinks and outdoors
  • are required on some basement outlets
  • can be added as temporary plug-in GFCI adapters.
  • can be added by an electrician as replacement outlets

If your outlets don’t have GFCI test and reset buttons, check your electric service panel; you may have some ground fault protected circuit breakers.

GFCIs should be tested monthly. Simply plug in an electrical appliance (fan, hair dryer, etc.), turn it on and depress the “test” button located on the outlet. The appliance should immediately turn off. To reset the GFCI for that location, turn off and unplug the electrical appliance, and then depress the “reset” button.

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keeping diy projects electrically safe
​do-it-yourself hazards

It is important to watch out for nearby power lines any time you:

  • use a ladder
  • work on a roof
  • prune trees
  • carry long tools or pipes
  • clean a pool
  • dig in the yard 
  • install or remove an antenna
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​Overhead and underground power lines may be present, and proper preparation is important before you begin your project. Be sure to call the Arizona 811 (formerly Arizona Blue Stake center) by dialing 811 at least two working days prior to any digging activity.

Remember a few rules:

  • Electricity and water don’t mix. Keep appliances, even those that are turned off but plugged in, away from bathtubs, sinks, puddles and wet hands. They can shock and injure or kill you.
  • Do not yank electric cords out of an outlet by their cord -- use the plug head.
  • Never carry a power tool or appliance by its power cord. They are not designed to withstand repeated bending.
  • Do not run electrical cords under rugs or furniture. They can be damaged or overheat and start a fire.
  • Carry ladders and antennas (and other long conductive objects) horizontally and always look up before raising them to ensure that there are no overhead power lines. Overhead power lines are typically not insulated. Touching a ladder or antenna to an energized power line will result in completing a path to ground and cause serious injury or death.
  • Survey your roofline for overhead power lines prior to working on your roof. Remember that most overhead power lines are not insulated.

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stay safe during natural disasters

​Natural disasters are not uncommon in Arizona. Summer monsoons, flash flooding and winter storms can play havoc with the APS electric transmission and distribution system.

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summer storms & monsoons
Strong storms can result in damage to structures, including our overhead transmission and distribution system.
 
Stay a safe distance from structures and power poles following a significant storm in areas where other obvious structural damage is evident. Always assume that downed power lines are energized and remain a safe distance away (50+ feet).
 
flooding
Stay away from the flooded area, especially in locations where our system is located underground. Water and electricity do not mix. Portions of the system may energize automatically, even when flooded. Stay away from overhead power lines when in watercraft. The height of the flooded area may raise you to an unsafe level beneath power lines. 
 
snow & ice storms
Snow and ice accumulations on overhead power lines can cause the lines to fail and fall to the ground. Do not park or camp under overhead power lines. Understand that in areas of the state that are prone to severe winter weather, having alternate means of warming your residence, food and water is important because we cannot guarantee service at 100% levels.
 
While we take pride in the reliability of our system, all mechanical systems break from time to time, and snow and mud can prevent us from quickly reestablishing service, especially in remote areas. Always assume that downed power lines are energized and remain a safe distance away (50+ feet).

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have fun safely
​flying, sailing, ballooning, hang gliding & more

Recreational enthusiasts have suffered serious injuries when they or their equipment came too close to overhead power lines.

Pilots, for example, must ensure that they look for overhead power lines when flying near ground level because they can be difficult to see in certain lighting conditions.

Sailboat masts can be tall, and can contact overhead power lines (yes, they exist over waterways in some locations).

Acting as “pilot in command” carries certain obligations, including safely operating the craft at all times.

stay safe indoors
  • Electricity and water don’t mix. Keep appliances, even those that are turned off but plugged in, away from bathtubs, sinks, pud​dles and wet hands.
  • Do not yank electric cords out of an outlet by their cord – use the plug head.
  • Do not run electrical cords under rugs or furniture. They can be damaged or overheat, causing a fire.
  • Put safety covers on all wall outlets.
  • Put a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) between your electric power source and your electric product. In a mishap, a GFCI can cut off power in less than a second.
  • Be prepared in the event of a power outage, click here to view a video on what you should include in your emergency outage kit.
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stay safe outdoors
  • ​Make sure you know the location of buried electrical lines in your back yard. Call 811 before you dig.
  • Contact your local electric utility before you trim or cut down trees that are near overhead power lines.
  • Keep metallic balloons indoors, as they are highly conductive, dispose of them properly in the trash; do not release balloons near overhead lines. Click here to see what happens when a metallic balloons touches a power line.
  • Learn what “danger high voltage” signs look like, and stay away from power lines, substations and pad-mounted electrical equipment.
  • Look up before skimming your pool or flying a kite, make sure there are no power lines nearby.
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stay safe on the go
  • Never enter an electric substation. If you see suspicious activity inside or near the substation, call 911 immediately.
  • If your vehicle comes to rest touching a downed power line, stay inside the vehicle, remain calm, call 911 and then call APS. Click he​re to watch a video explaining what to do if you are ever in this situation.
  • Call 911 if you see a downed power line or exposed electrical equipment. Keep yourself safe by staying 100 feet away.
  • Treat all wires with caution, regardless of size. Always assume any wire is energized.
  • If a storm hits and you see damage to an area that has power lines in the vicinity, stay away from the area and call 911. The area may still be energized.

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