New snow prompts electrical warning
This winter's weather conditions are making rooftop snow and ice removal and other activities near power lines potentially hazardous, warns Otter Tail Power Company's Safety Services Manager Eric Hamm. "We remind everyone to exercise good judgment and to respect anything powered by electricity," says Hamm.
"Keep ladders and snow rakes away from overhead power lines when clearing sewer and heating vents and removing snow from roofs. To reduce the chance of electrical shock, use a fiberglass ladder, and locate your point of entry onto your roof at least a ladder's fall from power lines or other electrical equipment," Hamm says. "Just a few seconds of caution can make a big difference in maintaining safety and well-being. Remember, if in doubt, contact a professional."
Please clear a path to your electric meter, but use caution when moving snow near metering equipment, says Hamm. "If the snow or ice build-up cannot be removed by brushing it off with a glove or gently using a broom, call your local provider. And never try to remove snow or ice from electrical lines." Otter Tail Power Company's number for service is 800-257-4044.
Hamm reminds city workers and anyone operating machinery near power lines to check clearances carefully when piling snow or performing any activities where snow depth might increase the possibility of contact with power lines. "Also be aware of transformers and pedestals at ground level," Hamm says.
Make sure extension cords used outdoors are rated for outdoor use and are in good repair. And keep them out of water and snow. Check the wattage on engine heaters to avoid overloading electrical outlets, and make sure extension cords are properly sized for the electrical load. Never yank, kink, or bend electrical cords or hang them from nails, which could crack the insulation around the wiring and lead to shock or electrical fire.
Hamm reminds snowmobilers to ride responsibly and to be especially careful while riding in road ditches. "A lot of right-of-way for electrical facilities borders road ditches," says Hamm. "Watch for electrical equipment such as substations, poles, guy wires, junction boxes, and padmount transformers that often are located near road ditches. Beware of excessive speed that could keep you from seeing these and other obstacles in time to avoid them. Be mindful that some smaller equipment could be obscured below the snow surface. Use extra caution when snowmobiling at night, and don't go faster than what your lights can illuminate in front of you."
"Wintertime calls for special emphasis on safety," says Hamm. "Make sure outdoor steps, walkways, patios, decks, and driveways are well lighted. Freezing rain, snow, and the thaw-freeze cycle create slippery conditions, and it's important that these conditions can be seen."