Willie Wise Safety Tips

bewilliewiselogo90Lovable electric co-op mascot Willie Wiredhand® wants to keep you safe around electricity. Follow the advice of “Pr’fessor Wiredhand” and you’ll be “Willie” wise with electricity too! Willie is now offering energy efficiency tips, too!


Play it safe…far from electrical stuff!

bewilliesmartmay08Electric co-op mascot Willie Wiredhand® says, “Play it safe…by NOT playing on or around these green, pad-mounted transformers.”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Electricity comes to your home through a system of power lines, poles, substations and other equipment. Each part has its job bringing electricity from power plants where it’s generated to your wall outlets.
Never play on or near any of this equipment. That includes utility poles, guy wires, substations and pad-mounted transformers – those green boxlike things you see in many suburban neighborhoods. They are for buried power lines. Just because they might sit between your yard and your neighbor’s doesn’t mean it’s something to play around or on.

Electrical Safety is ‘Elementary!’

sherlockwillieElectric co-op mascot Willie “Sherlock Ohms” Wiredhand says an extension cord used continuously and placed under a rug is double trouble!
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Sherlock Holmes is a great detective from books and movies. He helped people in danger by making astounding observations and deductions using just his magnifying glass and his mind. His archenemy was the evil Professor Moriarty.
You can be “Sherlock Ohms” – and protect your family from your evil “arc-enemy,” electrical dangers that may be lurking in your home.
Here’s how:
Observe outlets and cords:

    • Electrical cords should never run under rugs: their protective insulated covering could become cracked or damaged by foot traffic and cause a shock or fire. Or the cords could get too hot and also cause a fire.
    • Extension cords should be used only on a temporary basis.
    • Extension cords and appliances should all have a “UL” label from Underwriter’s Laboratory (or similar independent testing group) saying they have been approved.
    • The cord of an appliance should never be used as a handle. Always carry and hold the appliance by its handle or its body. Also, never unplug an appliance by yanking on the cord. Always use the grip at the plug.
    • Outlets should never be overloaded with too many plugs to appliances, lamps and computers; this could cause a fire. Check outlets for loose-fitting plugs; this, too, could cause a fire. Touch the plastic rectangles surrounding outlets and light switches; hot plates are a sign of trouble brewing behind them.
    • Electrical cords and the appliances they’re connected to should never be placed where they can fall or accidentally be pulled into a tub or sink.
    • Outlets near water, like in the bathroom, kitchen or utility room should always be special ones with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) built in. You’ll notice they have two little buttons for testing and resetting and maybe even little lights to show they’re working right. These can prevent serious shocks and even death should an appliance or cord fall into water.

Report your findings:
If you come across any of these problems, tell Mom and Dad – just as Sherlock Holmes turned to Dr. Watson for assistance when the “game was afoot.” Also, tell them to make sure your home has an all-purpose fire extinguisher handy.
If your home needs updated or additional outlets to solve these problems, or if you need GFCIs installed, have Mom or Dad call a licensed electrician to come to your home to help save the day and keep electrical arc-enemies at bay!

 

Stay in the car! STAY IN THE CAR!

bewilliesmartapril08Willie Wiredhand® says “STAY IN THE CAR if your car hits a utility pole. Call for help and wait till you get an OK from an electric lineman or a trained rescuer before stepping out.”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
If you’re ever riding in a car and for any reason it leaves the road and hits a utility pole, do you know what to do? The answer: STAY IN THE CAR!
Your first instinct may be to get out and see if everyone’s okay, but you can’t do that when you hit a utility pole. Don’t open the doors; don’t step outside. Your life may depend on it. Warn those you are with to stay in the car, too!
The reason? Power lines may have fallen and could still be energized.
Overhead power lines are tightly mounted atop poles. But, whenever a car or a truck strikes a pole, power lines can break loose and fall to the ground.
They could fall on your car or drop nearby. If you get out, you could become the path to the ground for the electricity. It could go through you and kill you. Or, you could brush up next to a fallen power line, or step on one; they are hard to see, especially if it’s dark. Fallen power lines can even energize the ground nearby.
Please stay inside your car. You’ll be safe there. Call 9-1-1 on a cell phone or yell to others to get help. Tell others to stay away until electric linemen come to make sure the lines are clear and safe. Then you can get out.
Only in the rare case of fire should you try to get out. Then look for a safe place and leap clear from the car – never touching the ground and the car at the same time. Then bunny hop with feet together away from the pole to safety. You hop with feet together or shuffle away so that – should the ground be energized by a line – one foot doesn’t fall into a different voltage zone than the other. Electricity spreads out through the ground like the ripples made from a pebble dropped in water. The voltage is highest in the ring closest to where the power line is touching the ground and decreases with distance.
Also, if you ever come upon an accident involving a utility pole, do not leave your vehicle to approach the scene. Again, downed power lines are hard to see and you could walk right into one, or they could be energizing the ground and you could be shocked just walking toward the accident.

 

Post no bills: Utility poles are not flag poles or billboards!

willienopostingDigital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Willie Wiredhand® says, “Electric lineworkers still have to climb poles from time to time. But the signs and all the nails on this pole make it dangerous and they need to be removed!”
Although seemingly innocent enough, putting signs or other items on a utility pole creates serious safety hazards. Staples, nails and tacks used to hang signs – as well as the signs themselves – pose dangers to electric line-workers who might have to climb that pole when either restoring power following storms or performing routine maintenance.
Signs or other objects create dangerous obstacles. Co-ops have found things like balloons, flags and even birdhouses and basketball goals attached to utility poles. Also, the nails and tacks left behind can snag utility workers’ boots or puncture safety clothing and gloves, making line-workers vulnerable to slipping or even electrocution. In addition to being hazardous, tampering with utility poles can be costly. Many places have laws against it with potential fines.
Utility poles sure look attractive for folks wanting to easily hang roadside signs. But next time Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa is having a yard sale or putting up campaign signs for a candidate, be sure to gently remind them not to use utility poles.
A line-worker’s job is dangerous enough. They work high overhead with live power lines in all kinds of weather to keep your lights on. Please don’t add to that danger.

Plan before you plant!

april09bewilliewise
Willie Wiredhand® says, “When you plant a tree, make sure there are no buried power lines nearby.” He called 8-1-1 several days ahead, had his buried utilities marked, and got an A-OK for his chosen spot!
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Trees add beauty and value to your family’s home. They attract song birds to your yard and can help save energy by shading your home in summer. Trees can even use up some of the excess carbon dioxide people create which many scientist say causes global climate change. But if you plan to plant a tree this spring, here are some things your family should remember:
Choose the right tree for the right place. Trees that grow too close to electrical lines can create power outages, shock and fire hazards. Do not plant near overhead power lines any tree that can grow to 25 feet tall. A mature height of less than 15 feet is recommended. Trees that later interfere with utilities have to be trimmed or removed.
Do not plant near underground utility services. Tree roots can grow and interfere with underground pipes, cables and wires. Future repairs to these facilities also could damage the health and beauty of nearby plants and trees.
Keep areas around electric meters, transformers or other electrical equipment free of any vegetation that could limit utility service access.
At least a few days before planting, call 8-1-1, the underground utility locator service, to mark the location of underground utilities so that accidental contact, damage and injuries can be avoided.

Capture wee bits of gold by goin’ green!

bewilliewisemarch2010Willie Wiredhand® says, “Replace old light bulbs with new energy saving compact fluorescent lamps, and over just a wee bit of time, it’ll be like finding your own pot of gold!”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Irish folklore and a favorite breakfast cereal tell of magical little people called leprechauns who stash pots of gold in the countryside. But you don’t need to catch one of these elusive wee folk to find treasure. Go green with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). They are better for the environment and will put gold back into your family’s own pot by saving energy. Here’s how:
Switch out the old incandescent light bulbs in the five most-used light sockets in your home with energy-efficient CFLs. Replace yard and porch lights, too!
Let the old incandescent bulbs cool down before unscrewing them. They get really hot because almost all the electricity they use is wasted creating heat.
CFLs cost a little more when you buy them, but they last 10 times longer and will pay for themselves in savings within six months.
Old bulbs use four times the amount of energy as a CFL to produce the same amount of light.
Over the life of a CFL bulb, it will save you $30 in energy and replacement costs.
CFLs may contain traces of mercury, a toxic substance. Dispose of CFLs properly. Lamar Electric Cooperative has a disposal bucket in their office.

‘HEADS UP’ to nature’s warnings!

willie-thunderWillie Wiredhand® says, “Lightning strikes usually don’t come ‘out of left field’. The first rumble of thunder you hear, wherever you are, is your signal to seek safe shelter!”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Electrical safety doesn’t mean “look up and live” just around power lines and being careful around outlets and appliances. Mother Nature reserves the biggest bolts of electricity for herself in the form of lightning. And while “bolts from the blue” can come seemingly out of nowhere, usually people have plenty of advance warning to seek safety.
That warning is the first rumblings of thunder. Here are some safety tips:
Seek shelter immediately if you hear thunder; lightning is not far away.
Find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed vehicle with the windows rolled up.
Do not seek shelter under trees, picnic and rain structures; or in baseball and softball dugouts and open-frame vehicles. Avoid objects like electric wires, metal fences, bleachers and metal awnings.
If you cannot find shelter in a building or closed-frame vehicle, keep your feet together and crouch on the ground using the “lightning crouch”: feet together, squat low, tuck head and cover ears.
If you are inside during an electrical storm, avoid contact with plugs and other electrical equipment like computers, and with water pipes, washers and dryers.
If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 and care for the victim immediately. You cannot be harmed by touching the victim after he or she has been struck by lightning.

Go fly a kite – SAFELY!

kiteflyingwillieWillie Wiredhand® knows how to fly his kite – in an open field far away from power lines!
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
If someone tells you to “go fly a kite” this spring, take him up on the suggestion. Kite flying is a lot of fun. Only, be sure to do so SAFELY.
ALWAYS fly your kite in an open field far away from overhead power lines.
Power lines are high on poles for a reason: to keep people away from them. They carry 7,200 volts that can kill anyone who contacts them.
When you’re flying a kite, the string you hold could make contact. That would allow electricity to flow down the string to you.
Also remember:
If your kite ever does drift or fall toward a power line, let go of the string.
Call your electric cooperative if your kite ever gets hung up on a pole or a power line. Never get it yourself.
If your kite gets hung up in a tree, make sure there are no power lines running through or near the tree before you try to get the kite down.

Metallic mylar balloons are no Valentines for power lines!

willie-mylar-balloonWillie Wiredhand® says, “Don’t be ‘Cupid’ with metallic balloons. They can conduct electricity and could cause fires, injury or death if they get caught in power lines. Secure them tightly when carrying them home, and never release them outdoors.”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Did you know those shiny, metallic balloons and ribbons used to celebrate Valentine’s Day, birthdays and other special occasions are a powerful electrical conductor? They are coated with metal to give them their shine. A metallic ribbon on a metallic balloon creates an additional electrical path and potential danger to the person holding it, for example, if the balloon is carried outside near equipment like the electrical service connection. Here are other things to keep in mind:
Always keep metallic balloons secured when transporting them outdoors. When the celebration is over, puncture the balloons and throw them away to keep them safely away from power lines and electrical equipment.
Never release them outside.
Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone and immediately call your electric co-op to report the problem.

Keep electricity out of your water fun!

willie-waterWillie Wiredhand® says, “Have fun in water this summer, but please be safe!”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever and Liquid Library
Whether it’s swimming, boating or fishing, summertime is water recreation time for millions. While enjoying water activities, keep electrical safety in mind at all times.
Electricity is essential energy – it keeps us cool in the summer, lights our house, keeps the refrigerator cold, and runs the TV, stereo and computers. But electricity also can be dangerous. It doesn’t take much power to hurt someone – less than one-fifth of the electricity it takes to light a bulb can kill an adult.
Here are some tips to stay safe in or around swimming pools:

  • Do not put any electrical appliances within 5 feet of a swimming pool.
  • Any electrical outlets within 20 feet of a pool should be equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
  • Pools and decks should be built at least 5 feet away from all underground electrical lines, and at least 25 feet from overhead electrical lines.
  • Never swim during a thunderstorm.
  • Use battery operated, rather than electrical appliances near swimming pools.
  • If a swimmer is electrocuted or shocked, don’t dive in yourself or you could be electrocuted as well. Turn off the power, and then use a fiberglass shepherd’s hook to pull the victim out of the water.
  • When you leave the pool, don’t change the radio station or touch any electrical appliances until you are dry – never touch any electrical appliances when you are wet or standing in water. If you and your friends or younger siblings play with sprinklers or hoses, set them up well away from any electrical outlets or appliances.

Electricity and water…DO NOT MIX!

pool-safetyWillie Wiredhand® says, “DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL! Never touch an electric device when you’re wet!”
Every summer people are injured or killed by electrical appliances in or near water or wet areas!
NEVER touch anything that plugs into an outlet when you are wet! If it plugs into a wall, keep it away from water and wet surfaces.
Parents, always make sure electrical appliances used outdoors or in bathrooms, kitchens or anywhere near water are plugged into an outlet with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

Enjoy Fireworks…in the sky!

fireworkswillieWillie Wiredhand® says, “Enjoy your ‘fireworks’ – but only as a spectator. DO NOT OVERLOAD ELECTRICAL OUTLETS!”
Everybody loves fireworks, especially on the Fourth of July. But the only fireworks you want to see are the ones in the sky – NOT ONES FROM OVERLOADED ELECTRICAL OUTLETS!
overloadoutlet

Every year, people die from house fires started from overworked outlets like this one pictured. the outlet and wiring inside the wall isn’t made for such an electrical load. The wires get too hot and can start a fire.
If you see outlets like this, tell adults you trust that that’s dangerous! If more outlets are needed, an electrician should come to the home to add outlets and upgrade the wiring to handle the load.
Willie Wiredhand ©NRECA

Stay safe around trees and power lines!

lines-in-treeWillie Wiredhand® says, “Look out above! Never climb a tree that has power lines running through its branches or within reach!”
Composite photo by Richard G. Biever
Do you like to climb and play in trees? Follow these tips to help keep yourself and your friends safe:

  • Never climb in or play in trees that are growing next to power lines.
  • Never touch a power line with your hand or with any other object, whether you are in a tree or on the ground.
  • Don’t build a tree house, fort, or anything else in a tree that is next to power lines.
  • Tell an adult if you see trees growing close to high-voltage power lines or contacting these lines. (High-voltage lines are the ones at the very top of power poles.)
  • If you see a power line that has fallen into a tree or onto the ground, stay away and tell an adult immediately. Even if they are not sparking or humming, fallen lines can kill you if you touch them or the ground nearby.
  • Plant only trees that will not grow tall or wide enough to contact nearby power lines. Call 8-1-1 before planting a tree to make sure you won’t dig into underground power lines.

Look out above!

willie-ladderWillie Wiredhand® says, “Before putting up his ladder to clean out his gutters, he scanned the skies to make sure there were no overhead power lines nearby.”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Ladders have safety issues no matter at which end you are. While a fall from the top of a ladder to the ground is obviously a serious threat, another danger with ladders is when you’re on the ground and you’re not paying attention to the top – and what else is up there overhead. Namely: POWER LINES.
Autumn is a time for cleaning gutters and pruning trees. So, folks in your family might be working with ladders. Here are some tips to make sure they stay safe:

  • Look up and around. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal ladders and other tools like pool skimmers and pruning poles. Be sure to lower long equipment when moving it. Ladders and other long items should be carried horizontally whenever possible.
  • Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to the house. Keep equipment and people at least 10 feet from lines. Never trim trees near power lines – leave that to the professionals. Don’t place a ladder where it can fall onto a power line.
  • Never use electric power or yard tools if it’s raining or the ground is wet. Never use electrical appliances or touch circuit breakers or fuses when you’re wet or standing in water. Keep electric equipment at least 10 feet from wet areas.

Slay the ‘ENERGY VAMPIRES’

willie-power-stripWillie Wiredhand® says, “Scare Energy Vampires out of their WATTS by using the on/off switch on a power strip.”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
In the twilight shadows, you start seeing them lurking everywhere in your home…beady green, red or amber eyes from across the dark room, in the corners and along the baseboards. They are: “ENERGY VAMPIRES.” (dum, dum, duuuuummmm!)
Energy Vampires suck electricity from the outlets of your walls even when no one’s around. Computers, monitors, printers, scanners, big-screen TVs, DVD players, cell phone chargers, game systems…they all are among the undead electronics – those that still use some electricity when no one is using them. Even when you’ve switched them off, they don’t go off all the way! (Spooky, huh?)
But you can help Mom and Dad keep them from wasting energy. First, plug them into correctly-sized switchable power strips. Then make sure you flip the switch on the power strips to “off” when you and your family are done using those electronics for the night. Those little evil eyes quickly will shrivel away – and so will your energy waste.
Who knows? Maybe your mom and dad will be so impressed by your vampire zapping trick, they’ll use some of the money they’ll be saving from their electric bill to buy more treats for you and your trick-or-treating friends this Halloween!

Don’t let hazards haunt Halloween!

willie-halloweenWillie Wiredhand® says, “Carry a flashlight with you when you’re trick-or-treating…and watch out for electrical hazards, too!”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
Halloween is the most festively frightening night of the year. But don’t make yours fraught with danger. Here are some safety reminders:

  • As you’re decorating, make sure you and your parents check for cracked sockets; frayed, loose or bare wires; and loose connections.
  • Fasten all outdoor lights securely to trees and other firm supports. Do not use nails or tacks that could puncture the insulating cords and damage the wires.
  • Make sure decorative lighting is well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance from anything flammable like dry leaves and shrubs. Do not coil power cords or extension cords while in use or tuck under rugs or drapes.
  • Make sure all outdoor electrical lights and decorations are plugged into an outlet protected with a ground-fault circuit interrupter. If your outlets aren’t equipped with GFCIs, have an electrician install them or buy a GFCI adapter plug.
  • Don’t overload outlets with too many extension cords and strands of lights.
  • Keep the cords off the walkways and porch where trick-or-treaters will trod. You don’t want them to trip.

Have Mom or Dad leave your porch light on for trick-or-treaters, and be sure to turn out all the spooky lights and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. This will also save energy.

Down and deadly! Stay away from power lines!

willie-downed-linesWillie Wiredhand® says, “STAND BACK! Never get close to any power lines. Ones dangling down and touching the ground like these ice-covered lines can still be energized!”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
With winter comes the possibility of severe ice storms, heavy snow and high winds. Bad weather can break tree limbs or topple trees and utility poles, and bring down overhead power lines with them. Always remember:

  • STAY AWAY from all power lines! This includes ones knocked down to the ground. Just because they might not be hissing, arcing or crackling doesn’t mean they’re dead. Even on the ground, overhead power lines could still be carrying their usual 7,200 volts of uninsulated electricity – and that in an instant could kill someone who touches them or even walks too close to them.
  • If you see downed power lines, immediately tell a parent or responsible adult. Have him or her call 9-1-1 and the electric co-op immediately.
  • Warn others to stay away from downed power lines.

Your electric cooperative wants you to enjoy all the wonderful benefits electricity brings to your home or farm, but always remember to be “Willie” wise around electrical equipment, especially power lines when they’re up in the air or when they occasionally might be knocked down by weather.

Leave space for your space heater!

willie-space-heaterWillie Wiredhand® says, “Leave at least 3 to 4 feet of space between a space heater and things like furniture that can catch on fire!”
Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
When the weather gets colder, and your family uses an electric space heater to take the chill out of a bedroom or family room, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep the heater at least 3 to 4 feet away from things that can catch fire like bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture, newspapers and rugs.
  • Keep little sister or brother and your dog or cat away from the space heater.
  • Never stick your fingers or other objects through the protective guards.
  • Keep your space heater away from areas with water.
  • Do not use a space heater to warm bedding or dry clothing or other objects.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off and unplug it when the last person using it leaves the room or before you go to bed.
  • Be sure the heater’s plug fits snugly in an outlet. The cord and plug may feel warm when operating since the unit draws so much power, but they should not feel hot. If they do, unplug it and tell your parents to have a qualified repair person check for problems. Never use an extension cord with a space heater.

    Are you prepared for a winter power outage?

    willie-batteriesWillie Wiredhand® says, “Have plenty of extra batteries on hand for all your battery-powered hand-held games to get you through any prolonged power outages; you won’t be able to recharge those that plug in!”
    Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
    Winter winds roar, and snow and sleet fly this time of year. Sometimes this wintry mix can snap limbs, trees and utility poles and bring down power lines. Usually when the lights go out, power is restored quickly. But when ice storms or heavy snows cause widespread damage and make roads impassable, prolonged outages cannot be helped. Is your family ready for an outage that may last longer? Here are some essential items for your family’s winter survival kit:

  • Food that requires no cooking or refrigeration such as bread, crackers, cereal, canned foods, and dried fruits. Make sure baby brother or sister has his or her formula, too.
  • Water: In case water pipes freeze or rupture, keep a supply of tap water or purchase bottled water.
  • Alternate methods to heat your home, such as: dry firewood for a fireplace or wood stove; kerosene for a kerosene heater; furnace fuel (coal, propane or oil).
  • Blankets, matches, medicines, first aid kit and instruction manual, multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher, flashlight, battery-powered radio, clock/watch or TV; extra batteries, shovel, rock salt, non-electric can opener.

    Deck the halls and yards with safety!

    willie-christmas-treeWillie Wiredhand® wishes all consumers a Merry Christmas and says have a bright and safe new year!
    Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
    Colorful, twinkling lights help make the holidays a magical time of year, but they must be handled with care.
    Here are some tips for using holiday electrical products safely:

  • Use LED lights on your tree. Unlike traditional incandescent holiday lights, LED lights do not get hot. While producing the same amount of light, LEDs use 75 to 90 percent less electricity — so they also save money and help the environment.
  • With any light set, carefully inspect each light before plugging it into a socket. Cracked, frayed, loose, or bare wires may cause a serious electric shock or start a fire.
  • Do not mount or support light strings in any way that might damage the cord’s insulation. Never nail or staple light strings or extension cords.
  • Always unplug an electrical decoration before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
  • Do not overload extension cords. Keep all cords clear of snow and standing water.
  • Use caution when decorating near power lines. Never fling strings of lights on trees that are near power lines.
  • Always turn off decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Use only lights designated as outdoor lights outdoors. Plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased wherever electrical supplies are sold.
  • Make sure ‘tannenbaum’ isn’t a ‘fire bomb’

    willie-treeWillie Wiredhand® says “Lift your pick of Christmas trees a few inches off the ground, then bring it down hard on its stump. If a bunch of needles fall off the branches, keep looking.”
    Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
    Charlie Brown’s choice of a live Christmas tree was funny and sweet in a cartoon, but in real life, a tree dropping its needles isn’t a good pick. Freshness counts. Christmas tree lights, especially the old-fashioned bulbs, can get very hot and create a greater fire hazard if the tree is already dry and brittle. Here are tips to make sure your family picks a fresh one and keeps it fresh throughout the holidays:

  • Once your family finds a tree that’s the right size and shape, gently take hold of a branch about 6 inches from the tip and pull your hand toward you, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Though some trees are prickly, the needles should stay on the tree and not come off in your fingers. (Also lift the tree and bring it down as Willie suggests above!)
  • As soon as you get your choice of a fresh tree home, the stem end should be cut off at least 1 inch straight across the bottom and the tree set in water. Cut trees will be thirsty. Make sure you refill the water daily.
  • Cutting your tree at a local tree farm, where you ride a wagon into the fields, will ensure you get a fresh tree — and makes wonderful memories, too!
  • Never use damaged strands of lights to decorate any tree, live or artificial.
  • Always turn off the tree lights when no one is around and before you go to bed.
  • Stay out of HOT WATER!

    willie-hot-waterWillie Wiredhand® says, “NEVER leave baby brother or sister alone in the tub for even a second…he or she could drown or turn on the hot water and be burned!”
    Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever
    If one of your responsibilities is to occasionally help mom or dad bathe a baby brother or sister, you should feel honored. That means your parents have a great respect for your abilities to take care of a loved one. But here are some safety reminders:

  • Make sure the water is not too hot. What might feel warm to you, could be too hot for baby. And he or she might not be old enough to tell you. Water should be about body temperature; make the room warmer so baby doesn’t get chilled.
  • Have Mom or Dad check the temperature setting on your water heater. To prevent scalding, it should be set below 120 degrees if young children are in the home. (It will also save energy and money!)
  • Never leave baby alone in the tub — not even for an instant. He or she could slip beneath the water and drown, or turn on the hot water and be burned.
  • Make sure all electrical gadgets that plug into outlets, like hair dryers, curling irons and radios, and their cords are kept far away from the tub and sinks so they can’t fall into water. Never, ever reach for one if it does; immediately tell an adult. They should then turn off the power to that outlet at the electrical panel.
  • Never use electrical items if you’re wet or if you have to stand on a wet floor.
  • Have Mom or Dad make sure all outlets in the bathroom are equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter that instantly shuts off power at the outlet if it detects a problem. An electrician should install them if your older home doesn’t have them. GFCIs save lives!

    Helmets keep your head’s wiring intact!

    bewilliewiseapril2010Willie Wiredhand® says he always wears a helmet when bicycling to keep his brain from being short-circuited in case of a crash! He hopes you do, too!
    Digital illustration by Richard G. Biever. Original background photo by Marsha Williamson Mohr.
    Bicycling is a lot of fun. And while bicycling doesn’t have much to do with electricity, we think bicycle safety is something too important for us to ignore.
    Always make sure you (and your family members) wear an approved, properly fitted and secured bicycle helmet whenever and wherever you ride. You never know when you might take a spill. It could be on a street, road or bike path, or even on your driveway. Any fall can cause a head injury. Any head injury can cause serious brain damage or even death.
    The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute says that young cyclists are more likely than adults to die of head injuries. Some 300 people are killed on bicycles each year. Two-thirds of those deaths are related to head injuries.
    Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo would never take a snap without his helmet. A baseball player never steps into the batter’s box without a helmet. And almost all the athletes in the Winter Olympics wore helmets. Why on earth would you want to travel 10-15 miles per hour or more on hard pavement with cars whizzing by at much higher speeds without protecting your head? Protect all that wiring up there in your noggin and keep those electrical impulses firing properly.
    Please, wear a helmet when riding.


    Willie Wiredhand® is a registered trademark of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and may not be reproduced without permission. Safety tips courtesy of Electric Consumer, a publication of Indiana’s electric cooperative community.