When it comes to electricity, no one knows more about how it works – and, more importantly, how to stay safe around it – than illustrious superhero Captain Wattage.
Just ask the hundreds of children across our service territory that saw him in action this spring.
Approximately 5,500 children in schools across central and eastern Pennsylvania saw our latest sponsored theater program designed to give long-lasting lessons about electrical safety.
The program, shown to students via livestream, featured Captain Wattage, who faces off against nemesis Vivica Voltage, who tries to get people to be unsafe around electricity. Through a series of lessons and with the help from Lineman Larry, Captain Wattage teaches how electricity is made, the uses of electricity, while identifying dangerous situations and how to stay safe around electricity.
It marks the seventh year that we’ve provided the program to schools in the communities we serve. To date, more than 120,000 elementary school children at more than 300 schools across PA have seen the program.
The online show is supplemented by student playbooks, posters and an e-learning package including games, e-books, hands-on lessons, and assessments for educators. We sponsor every aspect of the program, making Captain Wattage a cost-free supplement to lessons in science, literacy, and the arts taught by schools today.
For more information about electrical safety for kids, including games and activities please visit pplelectric.com/safety.
Are you planting any trees or shrubs this spring? If so, are you planning to call 811 before you start digging?
If you think a hole being dug for trees or plants isn’t enough to make the free 811 call, you may be wrong.
Some utilities could be buried inches below ground. And, unfortunately, about one in five people who dig don’t call 811 because they think their project isn’t deep enough for the call, according to Common Ground Alliance, a North American organization dedicating to preventing damage to underground utilities.
An 811 call is free for homeowners excavating on their residential property.
The law requires an 811 call before digging with power equipment, including backhoes, excavators, post hole diggers, and trenchers.
But it’s best to play it safe with any digging project by making the 811 call. Once placing the call, a crew will come out to the dig site to look for potential underground utilities and mark them with paint.
Here’s the information you will need when calling 811:
- The county and municipality in which the planned dig is located.
- The street name and address.
- The nearest intersecting/cross street to the address.
- Details of the dig site, including the area of the property where excavation will occur and what kind of work is being done.
- When the project is scheduled to take place.
If you hire a contractor to do the excavation for you, they are required to call 811 themselves.
Stay safe this spring and call before you dig.
For more info, visit the Pennsylvania 811 website at pa1call.org.
If you do any kind of excavation work as part of a business or at home, you won’t want to miss PA Safety Days events that Pennsylvania One Call System, Inc., is hosting across the state this year, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Beginning with Eastern Safety Day at Agri-Plex’s Bill Harris Agricultural Hall, 302 North 17th Street in Allentown on May 17, 2022, the free events provide a chance for excavation professionals, public officials, and others to learn about safe digging practices and promote the protection of critical underground utilities.
We are a proud sponsor of these free events, which have drawn an estimated 28,000 people since 2006.
You can register and learn more about the following events online at pa1call.org/SafetyDay.
- May 17: Agri-Plex’s Bill Harris Agricultural Hall, Allentown Fairgrounds, 302 N. 17th St., Allentown, PA.
- May 19: Drexelbrook Conference Center, 4700 Drexelbrook Dr., Drexel Hill, PA.
- June 7: Monroeville Convention Center, 209 Mall Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA.
- June 16: York Expo Center, Mid-Atlantic Industrial East and West, 334 Carlisle Ave., York, PA.
- August 11: Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Highway 315, Wilkes-Barre, PA.
- Sept. 20: Bayfront Convention Center, 1 Sassafras Pier, Erie, PA.
- Sept. 22: Blair Convention Center, 1 Convention Center Dr., Altoona, PA.
The Safety Day conferences provide valuable training, networking, knowledge transfer, and continuing education, while featuring hands-on demonstrations and an opportunity for participants to learn about the latest safety practices, tools, and techniques.
Attendees typically include excavators, designers, public utilities, facility owners, project owners, municipal leaders, sewer and water authorities, public officials, emergency responders, locators, damage prevention associates, excavation professionals and homeowners.
Each host venue will follow cleaning protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Remember to contact Pennsylvania 811 a minimum of three days before you plan to dig. To learn more, please visit Pennsylvania 811 website at pa1call.org.
Winter is prime season for space heaters. While space heaters can keep you comfortable, they can also be dangerous.
When you’re using an electric space heater to warm up your home, office, or business, follow these tips to stay safe:
- Only buy newer models with current safety features.
- Make sure the product has an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
- Position the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic.
- Always keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Plug all electric space heaters directly into wall outlets.
- Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. If you need to use an extension cord, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Buy a space heater with a tip-over safety switch.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
As winter kicks into full gear, we can expect to see more snow and, of course, cold temperatures.
While we all do our best to stay warm during these times, we may occasionally need a little extra help to keep ourselves, and our homes, cozy. This may mean using anything from a plug-in, portable space heater to, in the event of a severe storm, a portable generator.
Even though it may seem easier to take a shortcut when trying to stay warm, you should always keep safety top of mind. Here is some information on the dangers associated with three common pieces of electrical equipment used during winter, as well as tips on how to use them safely.
Electric Blankets and Heating Pads
Both electric blankets and heating pads can provide some relief from the cold. While they may seem harmless, they cause almost 500 fires each year, according to ESFI. Here are some helpful tips to keep you safe:
- Heating pads and electric blankets are not designed to be used interchangeably or at the same time.
- Always be sure to inspect the device before using it. Start by checking the electrical cord and replace the item if you find any damage.
- Do not place other objects or blankets on top of an electric blanket while it’s in use as it can easily overheat.
- Do not tuck an electric blanket into the mattress and avoid folding it. Both can cause the blanket to overheat.
- Never leave these devices unattended or use them while you are sleeping.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), heating equipment — like portable space heaters — are the second leading cause of home fires in the United States and more than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment annually. It’s important to use these devices sparingly, and only when needed, to prevent something from going wrong. Here are some tips to ensure you’re being safe:
- Before using a space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions in full.
- Don’t plug space heaters into extension cords or power strips.
- Be sure to give space heaters plenty of room and keep them on a level surface away from flammable objects and foot traffic.
- Remember to only use a space heater when needed and don’t leave a heater unattended while in use. Make sure you turn it off and unplug the cord when you’re not using the device.
- It may be advantageous to ditch your older space heater for a new one that has built-in safety features like a tip-over switch.
If the power goes out during a winter storm, you may turn to a generator. While the ability to keep the essentials running is certainly amazing, generators can pose a serious risk to your health. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 50% of all generator-related carbon monoxide deaths occur during the winter months. Follow these tips before firing up your generator:
- Be sure you are reading, and following, the manufacturer’s guidelines for operation and take heed of any warnings. This includes making sure you use the proper fuel for the generator and only add fuel when the generator is cool.
- Before each use, inspect the generator to ensure it’s in good working order.
- Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or business. Be sure to also keep them away from windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to sneak inside.
- Even though you will be using the generator outside, make sure that your home has battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors that are in good, working condition.
- Make sure you never backfeed power from the generator into your home. Doing so can create serious safety hazards for our linemen working to restore your service by sending power back outside of your home.
Remember, with a little preparation and a few precautions, you can keep you, your family and your home safe and warm this winter.
For more information about how we promote safety, visit pplelectric.com/safety.