At your Touchstone Energy cooperative, member safety is important to us. Below are some links to important safety information to help keep you and your family safe
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Accidentally contacting a power line can be dangerous and in some cases, even deadly. Your Touchstone Energy 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 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 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.
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.
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. 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.
Preventing Electrocutions Associated with Portable Generators Plugged Into Household Circuits
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.
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.
No season in Texas is safe from severe weather, but Winter Storm Uri in February 2021 tested the resilience of many across the state. After suffering without power or experiencing rolling outages, many are now looking for a backup power
supply. In recent weeks, Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative members have contacted the co-op requesting advice on using generators at home. Safety is paramount when using generators—both for the safety of you and your family and that of the co-op’s line crews. HOTEC lineworkers take necessary precautions before they work on downed power lines, including taking care to ensure that a line is de-energized before working on it. But even after taking those measures, an improperly connected generator can put our workers’ lives and yours at risk.
A generator connected to a home’s wiring or plugged into a regular household outlet can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone who comes into contact with them—even if the lines seem dead. Heart of Texas EC employees are not the only ones endangered by improper generator use. Misuse can lead to electrocution, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and damage to property. Portable generators can be very helpful during outages, but it is imperative that you follow these safety guidelines when using them:
- Never connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring unless your home has been wired for generator use, which includes having a transfer switch installed by a qualified electrician. The transfer switch can be used to disconnect your home from the power grid. Connecting the generator to a house’s wiring without such a switch can cause current to flow out of your home’s circuitry and along power lines, putting at risk anyone who comes into contact with those lines.
- Always plug appliances directly into generators or 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. Refer to Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines and your generator’s instruction manual for proper grounding information. If you are unsure about whether any connections include grounding, stop and call a licensed electrician to ensure everything is connected properly.
- Never overload a generator. A portable generator should only be used when needed to power essential equipment or appliances.
- Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before
shutting it down.
- Only operate a generator on a dry, covered surface outdoors away from windows and doors.
- Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never fuel a generator while it’s operating.
- Inspect and maintain your generator regularly. Gasoline engines and generator equipment must be periodically serviced in order to maintain reliable and safe running conditions. Check your instruction manual for proper service intervals.
- Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.
Never cut corners when it comes to safety. HOTEC encourages 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 the safety and good of our communities, we all benefit.