Deck the Halls and do it safely.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
The holiday season is upon us. It’s the time of year for fun, cheer, and holiday lights! With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s important to keep safety — particularly electrical safety — at the top of your holiday list.
Did you know that nearly 5,000 people visit the emergency room each holiday season due to indoor and outdoor electric decoration mishaps, according to the United States Consumer Product and Safety Commission?
Don’t be part of that statistic. Here are six tips, courtesy of Electric Safety Foundation International (EFSI), to keep you safe while decking the halls:
- Check it Twice — Be sure to check strings of lights for broken bulbs, cracked sockets or loose connections. Also check each decoration’s electrical cord to ensure they are not frayed or cut.
- Easy There Clark — When hooking up electrical holiday decorations, don’t overload circuits, outlets, or extension cords with too many plugs. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for how many sets of lights can be safely connected. Too many strings can cause a potential overload, which is one of the leading causes of house fires.
- Up on the Rooftop — When stringing up outdoor lights, always use a dry wooden or fiberglass ladder and stay clear of any overhead powerlines. You, your decorations, and your equipment should be at least 10 feet away from powerlines at all times.
- Hang them with Care — When hanging electrical holiday decorations, don’t use nails, screws, tacks, or staples to hang them. Piercing the cord could damage the wire’s insulation and cause electrical shock or fire. Try using plastic or insulated clips instead.
- Home Alone — If you are leaving the house, be sure you turn off your holiday lights and decorations. And do the same when you’re sleeping. Using an automatic timer can make it easier to turn everything off, or on, precisely when you want to.
- Bah Hum-Rug — When decorating indoors, don’t run any extension cords under rugs or carpets. Plus, be sure to discard any older, outdated, or damaged extension cords to help prevent the risk of a fire.
Don’t let something preventable ruin your holiday season. A little bit of preparation can help you make your season bright, and most importantly, safe.
At PPL Electric Utilities, we power 29 counties in Pennsylvania. This isn’t just our service territory, it’s our home. It’s where we live and work. It’s where our children go to school. We’re all neighbors.
That’s why we’re proud of the support we’ve provided to our communities this year – and our commitment to continuing these efforts for years to come. Here are just a few examples of the ways we’ve brightened lives in 2022.
Throughout the year, our employees give their time and talent to support organizations they’re passionate about, including volunteering on 100+ nonprofit boards. Additionally, in 2022, there were several organized efforts during which our employees and their families could support our communities.
In April, more than 150 employees planted trees, created trails and more during Earth Appreciation Month. Organizations and locations we supported included Wayne Grube Memorial Park, Hays Elementary, Lehigh Valley Zoo, Pool Wildlife Sanctuary, Northcentral PA Conservancy, Louise Moore Park and more.
This fall, over 200 employees and their families participated in United Way Day of Caring events serving nonprofit organizations in the Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, and Benton. Participants helped complete projects at the Sixth Street Shelter, Camel’s Hump Farm, Lehigh County Humane Society, Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center, and other locations.
Supporting STEM education
One initiative about which we are particularly passionate is supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. From the Mifflinburg Science Festival in Union County to the Summer Reading Program at the Whitehall Township Public Library in Lehigh County, and communities in between, we’ve helped offer students many new opportunities to flex their brains in 2022. Find out more about our support of STEM education programs.
We know that it’s more important than ever to engage students in STEM disciplines from an early age, and that’s one of the reasons we continue to support efforts like the PPL Foundation’s Cover to Cover program and Empowering Educators grants, which support and encourage teachers to provide hands-on STEM learning experiences. Learn more about the 2022 Empowering Educators grant recipients.
Keeping communities safe
We take our commitment to electrical safety seriously. In 2022 alone, our Live Line Electrical Safety Exhibit, which demonstrates the dangers associated with electrical lines, reached 9,500 first responders and others. The exhibit has reached over 57,000 since its creation in 2016.
This year, more than 10,000 students in 60+ schools learned about electrical safety from “Captain Wattage” during a show we developed in partnership with The National Theatre for Children. That show has reached over 125,000 kids since 2015 via livestream and in-person performances.
We also distributed thousands of free books on electrical safety for students, a program that has impacted more than 43,000 kids since its start in 2018.
Lending a helping hand
With prices rising in industries across the board, some customers are having trouble keeping up with their bills. That’s why we’ve supported customers with payment assistance and other programs, and provided tips and tools to help you use less energy. Check out our new 360 interactive tool to find the savings hiding in your home.
Protecting the environment is another critical part of our community commitment. We want to keep our winged neighbors safe and thriving, all while protecting the natural beauty of Pennsylvania. We’ve built nesting platforms to protect birds of prey, and we consider the environmental impact of everything we do.
Since our Community Roots program started in 2017, we have given away over 127,000 trees and pollinator plants to help stabilize streambanks, beautify neighborhoods and provide important habitat for birds, bees and butterflies. Over the past year, we’ve connected with thousands of people at dozens of Community Roots events at fairs, concerts, festivals, schools, land conservancies, and conservation organizations in places like Allentown, Bloomsburg, Catawissa, Honesdale, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport, to name a few.
As we look ahead to 2023, we look forward to continuing to serve and support the communities we all call home. Stay tuned to the community involvement category on this blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with our community efforts throughout the year.
The 167th Bloomsburg Fair was about more than fries and snow cones, rides, and prize-winning livestock. Visitors to the fair also had a chance to learn all about electrical safety, courtesy of PPL Electric Utilities.
Fairgoers watch an electrical safety demonstration
During the fair, attendees were invited to visit our Live Line Electrical Safety Exhibit to watch regular electrical safety demonstrations each day. The exhibit featured a scaled down, 7,200-volt electrical distribution system.
During demonstrations, the public saw our trained employees, wearing protective equipment in a controlled environment, using ladders, gloves, shovels, and other tools to illustrate the spark, flames, smoke, and crackle that occur when items contact live electrical lines. Our team also showed what happens when contacting underground power lines while digging.
The exhibit, which was designed by our employees in 2015 as part of our commitment to protecting the safety of our communities, is used to educate first responders and others about how to stay safe around power lines and electrical equipment. More than 51,000 people have seen demonstrations since we started taking the exhibit across our 29-county Pennsylvania service territory.
If you think your organization may be interested in a demonstration, please contact Doug Haupt at email@example.com. Available dates for 2022 are booked, but 2023 bookings have begun. You can also visit our Safety and Community page to learn more about our commitment to safety in the communities we serve.
Promoting electrical safety and putting down [Community] Roots
During several days at the fair our Community Roots program also was on hand to distribute free trees to fairgoers.
Since our Community Roots program started in 2017, we have given away over 127,000 trees and pollinator plants to help stabilize streambanks, beautify neighborhoods and provide important habitat for birds, bees and butterflies. During Community Roots events, our employees also remind attendees to call 811 before they dig and ensure they do not plant trees under or near electrical facilities.
It’s back to school season.
Settling into a new school year routine takes time, and after the quiet summer months, we can all use a safety refresher to help keep our kiddos and the rest of the family safe around electricity.
Electrical safety tips for in your home:
- Make sure your kitchen and bathrooms have GFCI-protected outlets to keep you safe from electrical shocks.
- Check that you have working smoke alarms and never disable a smoke alarm when cooking.
- Avoid overloading outlets and regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage.
- Never insert anything other than an electrical plug into an electrical outlet.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use to save energy and minimize the risk of shock and fire. Never leave cooking or appliances unattended.
Safety tips for outside your home:
- Don’t play on or around utility poles or power lines.
- Keep away from green box transformers or other electrical equipment.
- Stay on the sidewalk when possible or walk facing traffic.
- Always use crosswalks and look both ways before crossing the street.
- Watch out for students and pedestrians crossing the street.
- Make sure to obey school zone speed limits.
- Stay at least 10 feet away from any school bus that’s stopped with its sign extended and lights flashing.
We hope all the students returning to the classroom—and their families—have a safe and enjoyable school year!
Firefighters face many dangers – not the least of which are electrical hazards – while battling fires and working to keep others safe.
So when the Scranton Fire Department had the chance to learn from PPL Electric Utilities how to keep themselves and others safer around power lines and other electrical components, its members jumped at the opportunity.
Dan Hallowich, deputy chief of Scranton’s Bureau of Fire, said the lessons we provided with our Live Line Electrical Safety Exhibit were “second to none.”
“More often than not, we have to rely on theoretical discussions and case study review to learn about electrical hazards,” Hallowich said. “This presentation was able to put theory into action for us. We were able to see, hear, and in some cases smell, the outcome of these hazards allowing the development of key sensory memories – which is key for split second decision making.”
“Without a doubt, the PPL Electric Live Line Safety Presentation has improved our knowledge and understanding of electrical hazards throughout the community resulting in a safer environment for our members.”
Our 7,200-volt exhibit features live electrical wires, utility poles and transformers. Using ladders, gloves, shovels and other tools in a controlled environment, trained PPL Electric staff wearing protective equipment recreate sparks, flames, smoke and crackling that occurs when those items, as well as tree branches and mylar balloons, contact live electrical lines. We also discuss the importance of calling 811 before digging.
To date, we’ve reached more than 55,000 people with nearly 600 demonstrations since 2016. And more than 50 electrical safety demonstrations have been scheduled for fire departments, municipalities, safety events and fairs across our 29-county service territory during 2022. We’ll once again be doing daily demonstrations at the Bloomsburg Fair, which takes place from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1.
If your organization is interested in a demonstration, please contact Doug Haupt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-297-2461. Available dates for 2022 are limited, but 2023 bookings have begun. There are several requirements for the demonstrations: an audience of at least 50 people is required; we need an area suitable to accommodate the exhibit; and the host organization is asked to invite nearby first responder organizations.
For more information about how we keep our communities safe, visit pplelectric.com/safety.