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.
When there’s a problem — or a fault — on a power line, it can cause power outages for our customers. But thanks to a game-changing new system, these problems impact fewer customers than ever. The new system, created by our own engineering teams and vendor partners, uses smart devices that interrupt faults remotely. They’re called “vacuum reclosers.”
We place them on power lines to monitor the flow of electricity. When a sensor on a line detects a problem, the nearest recloser automatically cuts power from that point in the line. Instead of every customer on the line losing power, only customers downstream of the recloser device are impacted. Then, our crews work as safely and quickly as possible to restore power to everyone who is out.
In November 2021, we installed the first vacuum recloser on a transmission line and plan to install more of these devices at locations that will provide the most benefit to our customers.
This is just one example of our commitment to innovate and invest in technologies that improve reliability.
Oftentimes, door-to-door scammers will misrepresent themselves. Not only their identity, but they will also misrepresent what their true intentions are. In those situations, scammers are generally looking to obtain your personal and account information to switch your electricity supplier without your knowledge.
We deliver your electricity, but in Pennsylvania, you can shop around for the supplier that’s right for you. While most suppliers market their services appropriately, some use fraudulent tactics – like misrepresenting themselves as PPL or offering too-good-to-be-true deals – to scam you out of your hard-earned money.
We do not sell supplier services door-to-door. So, if a solicitor is claiming to represent PPL Electric Utilities, you can be sure they are attempting to fool you.
If you want to listen to what the door-to-door salesperson has to say, you can, but the best place to start the shopping process is on our website, pplelectric.com/shopsmart, or by visiting the Public Utility Commission’s site at PAPowerSwitch.com.
Here are some tips to help you identify and slam the door on scammers:
- Scammers will generally pressure you to act fast, don’t let fast-talking push you to give up personal information or make a decision on the spot.
- If someone knocks, claims to be from PPL, and asks for money or for you to sign a contract, don’t do it. We never solicit services or demand payments door-to-door. Tell them you don’t have time to talk and that you’ll be calling us later to discuss.
- Remember, if something doesn’t seem right when talking to a door-to-door salesperson, or something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
- Know what questions to ask when switching suppliers: What is the length of the agreement? Is there an automatic renewal? Are there cancellation, change, or penalty fees? Is this an introductory rate? What is the price after the introductory period?
- Spread the word. If a scammer tries to target you, they may also try to target others in your community. Let neighbors know they should keep an eye out for scammers.
- Creating an online account is a great way to avoid scams. You can check your account information and current electricity supplier at any time, from any device at pplelectric.com.
Students are heading back to school in a few short weeks. And in some school districts, this is the first time students have hopped on a school bus or been in a physical classroom in almost 18 months!
One thing is for sure – we can all use a refresher on back-to-school safety.
Whether your little ones are starting school for the first time or teenagers are embarking on their high school journey, these simple tips will help you keep them safe all throughout the year:
- Choose a backpack carefully and encourage children to wear both straps so the weight of all their books and school supplies are evenly distributed.
- If your children walk to school, remind them to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, they should walk facing traffic.
- Driving? Make sure to obey school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off policy.
- Be alert for pedestrians and students crossing the street, especially before sunrise.
- Encounter a bus on your commute? Stay at least 10 feet away from any school bus that’s stopped with its stop sign extended and red lights flashing. Do not proceed until the stop arm is withdrawn, lights stop flashing and students are all safe.
For more safety tips, visit the National Safety Council.
Have a great school year!