• Safety 101

  • Electricity is an essential part of our lives, but it can also pose a significant danger. By following some key electrical safety guidelines you can minimize any risk to you and your family. Safety is always our top priority. Please read through these tips to help prevent electricity-related accidents.

    Electrical Safety Tips

    Outdoor Safety:

    • Check for power lines in or near trees before using a ladder, trimming branches, cleaning gutters or working on a roof.
    • When working near power lines, stay at least 25 feet away.
    • Carry long or tall items such as ladders and pool cleaning equipment parallel to the ground when walking near power lines.
    • Never throw anything at or over a power line, transformer or substation.
    • Keep electrical equipment away from water at all times – never use any electric appliance on a wet surface, while wet or standing in water.
    • Hire an electrician to upgrade exterior outlets to Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets to protect from potential shock.
    • Keep electric appliances a minimum of 10 feet away from swimming pools.
    • Never go near or touch a fallen power line. Assume that all downed power lines are live and extremely dangerous. Call 1-800-898-8042 and follow the prompts to report downed power lines and damage.

    Indoor Safety:

    • Never overload electrical outlets with multiple appliances. Unplugging appliances that aren’t in use conserves energy and reduces the risk of fire or electric shock.
    • Use a power strip with an integrated fuse to plug more than two items into one outlet.
    • Use appliances with three-pronged plugs and the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) safety certification symbol.
    • If you have a flooded basement, don’t touch switches or circuit panels while standing in water.
    • Never use electrical appliances when taking a bath/shower or standing near a sink.
    • Regularly examine electrical cords and replace any damaged ones.
    • Keep electric space heaters a minimum of four feet from furniture, drapes and clothes.
    • Never place appliance cords where they will come into contact with the stove, radiators or other heated surfaces.
    • Unplug all electrical appliances before repairing or cleaning, and make sure lights are turned off before replacing a light bulb.
    • Hire an electrician to install GFCI outlets in your kitchen and bathroom where appliances are used near water.
    • Never remove an electrical plug by pulling on the cord.
    • Use extension cords minimally, and when they’re necessary, use one long cord rather than stringing together several shorter lengths.
    • Never force a plug into an outlet.
    • Since water conducts electricity, fires that involve electrical appliances and equipment must be handled very carefully. Do not throw water on electric fires because this can cause the fire to increase. Use a chemical fire extinguisher, leave the premises, and call 9-1-1.

    Call 8-1-1 Before You Dig

    Many miles of power lines, along with other important utilities, are located underground. It’s difficult to know exactly where this infrastructure lies, so if you are planning a project that involves digging, please remember:

    • Call 8-1-1 to get your underground utility lines marked for free. This helps prevent damage to infrastructure such as electric power lines and natural gas pipelines.
    • Digging without calling 8-1-1 can put you, your family and neighbors in harm’s way, interrupt your service, and possibly result in fines and repair costs.

    Download our 'Call Before You Dig' fact sheet (also available in Spanish) for more information.    

    Outages and Storms 

    Violent storms can hit our area in any season, so it is essential to be prepared. When the weather is nice, it’s easy to forget about storm preparedness, but there are many steps you can take before, during and after a storm to give you some peace of mind when weather turns threatening. Read through the following tips and download the Storm Preparation Handbook for your respective service provider to make sure you know how to respond in any severe weather situation.

    During and after a storm:

    • Maintain an emergency storm kit that includes essential items such as batteries, flashlights, water, non-perishable food and a radio.
    • Never go near downed wires and always stay clear of crews working on lines.
    • Avoid wet and flooded areas, as electricity and water are a dangerous combination.
    • Stay indoors during a thunderstorm, and remember that if you can count 20 seconds or less between lightning and thunder, a storm is close enough to cause injury.

    If Power Goes Out:

    • Unplug most lamps, as well as computers, TVs and appliances until you know that power has been restored
    • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors shut to keep their contents cool.
    • In the summer, close shades or curtains to keep rooms cooler.
    • In the winter, let the sun warm rooms during the day and close shades or curtains at night to keep the warmth in.
    • Exercise caution around candles, fireplaces and other open flames.
    • If you are operating a generator, make sure that you follow all safety guidelines.

    Natural Gas Safety 

    Natural gas stoves, ovens and other appliances are popular and useful, particularly during a power outage. Rather than relying on electricity, these appliances combine heat from a pilot light, oxygen and gas from a supply line to create a steady flame for cooking and heating. However, natural gas also poses safety risks: 

    If you smell gas, it may mean the pilot light has gone out. The pilot light is either a small flame that burns continuously or, in newer appliances, an electrical spark that occurs when the appliance is turned on. Call a qualified appliance repairman to fix any problems with the pilot light.

    Flames should be steady, blue and cone-shaped (flecks of orange are fine). If flames appear yellow, flickering, or larger than normal, call a qualified repairman to do a safety adjustment.

    Important: If you have natural gas appliances in your home, you can read through our Natural Gas Safety brochure for information and tips on recognizing problems.

    Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    Not to be confused with carbon dioxide – something humans produce every time we exhale – carbon monoxide is a very dangerous and highly toxic odorless gas produced when burning fuel without enough oxygen. Your oil, natural gas, coal or wood heating system can produce carbon monoxide if it isn’t adequately vented and working properly.

    Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness, headaches, weakness and shortness of breath, vision problems, and other flu-like symptoms. If someone begins to experience these symptoms, quickly leave your house and contact 9-1-1 immediately as carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to brain damage, unconsciousness and death.

    To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, you can:

    • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home and regularly check that it’s functioning properly.
    • Routinely inspect all fuel-burning appliances in your household and clear chimneys, vents and fuel pipes of corrosion and blockages. This is especially important during fall and winter when the buildup of leaves or snow can obstruct outdoor vents.
    • Do not leave vehicles running in an enclosed space.
    • Do not use the oven to heat the house, always use a purpose-made heater.

    Keepings Kids Safe

    Kids are naturally curious. Talking to your children about the power grid and how electricity travels can engage their minds and, at the same time, teach them how to avoid hazards and make safe choices around electricity. Make sure to check out our electricity education links and resources made specifically for children.

    The following tips, along with some basic education about electricity, can help keep kids safe among the many electrical devices they interact with daily:

    • Use socket covers over unused outlets. These insulators prevent electric shock.
    • Don’t leave electric cords within a child’s easy reach.
    • Teach kids to be mindful of electric wires when playing outside, especially with kites and balloons, and to only climb trees away from utility poles and power lines.
    • Make sure your child knows that activities such as flying kites, climbing trees or swimming must immediately stop when a storm approaches.
    • Keep your child away from windows, water faucets, pipes and outlets during a storm.
    • Don’t let kids jerk electric cords from the wall.
    • Make sure your kid knows to never stick any object other than an electrical plug into an outlet and to avoid touching electric appliances with metal objects or wet hands.
    • Don’t let kids throw anything at or over electric equipment and teach them to never attempt to retrieve items stuck in or near power lines.
    • Tell kids to call 9-1-1 for emergency help if someone is injured by electricity.

    Holiday Lighting Safety 

    Lights, trees and decorations are a cherished tradition of the holiday season, but they also lead to greater electrical safety risks. Follow these few simple steps to make sure your holidays are cheerful, bright and safe:

    • When stringing lights outside, make sure you use only lights that are rated for the outdoors. Always plug outside lights into an outlet with a GFCI (call your electrician to upgrade your outlet if needed) so you are protected from serious shock in case of electrical malfunction.
    • Make sure the lights you use are tested and certified safe by looking for the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) product label. Read the manufacturer’s specifications for how many strings of lights can be safely connected; too many lights attached together can overload a circuit, creating a fire hazard.
    • Inspect light and extension cords carefully, replacing any broken sockets, as well as cut, frayed or exposed wires before use.
    • Never attach more than three strings of lights to the same electric outlet.
    • Regularly water live Christmas trees; dry trees are a fire hazard.
    • Extinguish all candles before leaving the house or going to bed and turn off all lights and electric decorations.
    • Keep any space heaters at least 10 feet away from trees, stockings, gifts or decorations, and make sure electric cords do not cut across rooms, hallways or walking paths.
    • If you’re feeling ambitious this holiday season and want to put lights on your home’s roof, remember to carry all ladders and tall equipment parallel to the ground. Always look up to make sure you are clear of power lines.

    Scam Alerts

    We ask all our customers to keep an eye out for scammers posing as third-party energy suppliers. In the past, scammers have attempted to target customers through fake utility bills, “official” emails that contain viruses or malware, and by pretending to be Delmarva representatives and requesting monetary payment over the phone or in person. Since we often contact our customers through these same channels, it is important that you verify the identity and affiliation of anyone who calls or shows up at your door claiming to be a representative. 

    Similarly, make sure to only pay your utility bill through the mail or by visiting us online. If you have any doubts about the validity of a person’s claim to represent one of our companies, contact us by phone immediately.