Electric Safety

Although electricity provides us with the comfort and ease of everyday conveniences, it can be very dangerous, even deadly if not handled properly. Stay safe around electricity by following these safety tips.

Download the Electrical Safety Information brochure (PDF, 363KB)


Customers with Life-Sustaining Equipment

  • Pre-register with the City of Rocky Mount Customer Service department by calling (252) 972-1250, emailing [email protected] or visiting the Business Services Center at 224 S. Franklin Street.

  • Inform your rescue squad and the fire department of your needs in case of emergency.

  • Have emergency back-up equipment on hand, since immediate restoration cannot be guaranteed.

Downed Power Lines

  • Call (252) 467-4800 to report a downed power line, or tree limbs that have fallen on a line, and the nearest cross street to the line.

  • Stay away from downed power lines, even if they appear dead.

  • Do not touch a power line or anything in contact with the line. If a limb has fallen on a line, do not attempt to remove it.

  • Do not drive over a downed power line. If a power line falls on your car, stay inside until help arrives. If your car catches fire, jump clear of the car, and do not touch metal and the ground at the same time.

  • Parents are urged to check for downed lines in areas where their children might play.

Electrical Fires

  • If you can, unplug the appliance or turn off the main power switch.

  • Use a fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires or plain baking soda to put out the fire. Never use water to put out an electrical fire.

  • Call 911 immediately.

Electric Shock

  • Never touch a person who has been shocked by electricity.

  • Turn off the power source if possible. If this is not possible, try to separate the power source from the person with a wooden object, dry rope, or dry clothing.

  • Call 911 immediately.

  • Keep appliances in good condition. When they need repairs, call a qualified service person.

  • Always unplug appliances (by pulling the plug, not the cord) when they are not in use.

  • Do not overload electric outlets.

  • Replace the appliance when a cord is worn or frayed. Extension cords should be used temporarily.

  • Keep all appliances at a safe distance from water.

Child Safety
  • Cover seldom-used outlets with plastic safety plugs.

  • Put fans and portable heaters out of reach.

  • For outlets used frequently, get safety covers that let appliance cords pass in and out.

  • Replace burned out bulbs immediately. Never leave sockets empty.

  • Never fly kites or model airplanes near power lines.

  • Teach children to look for DANGER signs displayed on all high voltage equipment.

  • Do not release metallic balloons into the air. They can get caught in power lines and cause outages.

  • Never sit or play on pad-mounted transformers. Call the city immediately if a door is found open.

  • Never allow children to play near electrical outlets.

Fuses & Circuit Breakers
  • If you lose power in your home, see if you have blown a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker.

  • Do not stand on a damp floor or stand in front of the panel when resetting a circuit breaker.

  • Never replace a fuse with a foreign object or anything other than a properly sized compatible fuse.

  • Always follow safety precautions when using a standby generator.

Generator Safety

Your portable generator can be a lifesaver during emergencies, but remember to follow these simple tips to prevent injury to your family and utility workers restoring power:

  • Prevent backfeed and electric shock by only using a generator wired by a qualified electrician.

  • Plug electric appliances directly into the generator using manufacturer supplied cords or undamaged, grounded, heavy-duty extension cords.

  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) according to manufacturer's instructions.

  • Maintain and operate generator in accordance to manufacturer's use and safety instructions.

  • Keep the generator dry.

  • Shut down the generator before refueling.

  • Do not attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure unless the generator has a properly installed transfer switch.

  • Do not use a generator indoors.

  • Inspect the portable generator for damaged or loose fuel lines.

  • Only use generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from doors, windows, vents and other openings. This will prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home. Also, install carbon monoxide detectors (either battery-operated or plug-in with battery backup) inside the home.

Portable Home Generators: Stay Safe After the Storm (PDF, 214KB)

Holiday Electric Safety

Use the following safety guidelines to keep you and your family safe during the holiday season:

  • Inspect electrical decorations for damage before use. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.

  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each outlet at a time.

  • Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights together. Connecting more than three strands could blow a fuse or start a fire. Consider using LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than incandescent lights.

  • Keep the Christmas tree fresh by watering daily. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1-2 inches from the base of the trunk to ensure water absorption.

  • Use battery-operated candles. Candles start almost half of home decoration fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

  • Keep combustibles at least three feet from heat sources. Being too close to a heat source is a factor in half of home fires that begin with decorations.

  • Protect cords from damage. Cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces (e.g. doors or windows), placed under rugs, located near heat sources, or attached by nails or staples.

  • Check decorations for certification labels. Decorations not bearing a label from an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL), have not been tested for safety and could be hazardous.

  • Stay in the kitchen when something is cooking. Unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires.

  • Turn off, unplug, and extinguish all decorations when going to sleep or leaving the house. Unattended candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., according to the NFPA.

For more safety tips, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Kitchen Safety
  • Test smoke alarms monthly. Replace the batteries once per year and the smoke alarm every 10 years.

  • Stay in the kitchen at all times when you are cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.

  • Double check that oven burners and appliances are off when you are done cooking.

  • Keep flammable items, such as towels, napkins and potholders, away from the stove and oven.

  • Vacuum refrigerator coils every three months to eliminate dirt buildup that can reduce efficiency and create a fire hazard.

  • Use ground fault circuit interruptor (GFCI)-protected outlets in areas where electrical products might come in contact with water. GFCIs protect against shock and electrocution.

  • Keep countertop appliances away from the sink and the cords away from hot surfaces. Unplug appliances when not in use.

  • Clean dirt and food residue off of appliance surfaces that are exposed to heat. Splattered food could ignite if not cleaned prior to the next use.

  • Place fire extinguishers in places where a fire may start. Always locate them near exits so you can escape if the fire gets out of control.

  • Never tamper with the electric meter as it is both illegal and extremely dangerous.

  • Make sure outdoor electrical outlets are weatherproofed and protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

  • Never climb a utility pole or attempt to remove an object from a power line. If there is an obstruction on the line, contact the city immediately.

  • Touching a power line while using an aluminum ladder or while working on the roof could cause serious injury or be fatal. Always look overhead for power lines before working.

  • When pruning trees, check above to avoid touching a power line.

  • Do not plant tall-growing trees under power lines. If power lines are running through a tree, stay away from it and call (252) 467-4800.

Portable Space Heaters
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from flammable items like curtains, sheets or blankets.

  • Buy heaters that automatically shut off if knocked over.

  • Unplug the heater when not in use.

  • Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.

Power Tools
  • When working outside, use only heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use.

  • Keep tools clean, and use and store them in a dry place. Dampness increases shock hazard.

  • Protect cords from heat, chemicals, gases or oil, and coil them loosely when finished.

Substations & Transformers
  • Stay away from substation fences and pad-mounted transformers. Transformers are usually green and mounted on concrete slabs. They are found where there are underground power lines.

  • If you see a substation fence or transformer that has been vandalized, call (252) 467-4800 immediately.

Water Hazards
  • Do not stand in water or on a damp floor when using appliances or power tools. Do not put any electrical parts in water.

  • Never touch or lean on plumbing pipes while touching an appliance.

  • If you’re putting in a swimming pool in your yard, don’t locate it under power lines.

  • Make sure all electrical equipment used for swimming pools, including the cleaning equipment, is grounded.

  • Don’t allow yourself or anyone else to swim near the dock. Avoid entering the water when launching or loading your boat. Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water causing water electrification.