Electrical safety tips

Outdoors or in your home, you can stay safe.

Understanding how electricity works enables you to remain safe indoors or outdoors, at home or on the job.

Please take a look at the tips and resources below in order to be prepared, keep safe and avoid electrical hazards and injuries.

For great tips on how to prepare for prepare for power outages and what to do during a monsoon thunderstorm, visit the TEP Outage Center.

Outdoor safety

Power lines

Look up and look out for overhead power lines. Be mindful of any nearby lines before you climb a ladder or extend the handle of a pool-cleaning tool.

Keep materials, tools and all parts of your body at least 10 feet away from any overhead power lines at all times. If you plan to get any closer, state law requires you to make arrangements with TEP that will allow your work to proceed safely. Keep this in mind when installing or repairing an antenna or satellite dish or preparing your evaporative cooler for summer use.

Tree limbs

Before you trim tree limbs and shrubs, watch out for power lines that could be hidden by foliage. Contact TEP's Customer Care line at 520-623-7711 if you have questions or concerns about tree limbs growing into or around overhead power lines on your property.

Customers who wish to clear tree limbs or other foliage away from an electric service line must first call TEP's Customer Care line to ask that their power be turned off for the duration of their work. Customers are responsible for keeping foliage at least 15 feet away from the service lines that connect their homes and businesses to TEP's electrical distribution system. There is no cost for this temporary suspension of electric service.

Power cords

Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers for frayed power cords, broken plugs and weathered or damaged housings before every use. Don't use damaged equipment until it has been repaired properly. Keep tools unplugged and stored in dry areas when they are not in use. And always use an insulated extension cord designed for outdoor use with the correct power rating for that equipment.

Always keep power cords and electrical equipment away from water, wet grass or other wet areas. Keep this in mind when using electric-powered mowers or other lawn equipment.

No kites

Never fly kites or model airplanes near power lines. If a kite does get tangled with overhead lines, don't try to get it down yourself, as a kite string can conduct electricity. Instead, call TEP for assistance. Don't fly your kite when a thunderstorm is brewing.

Before you dig

Call before you dig. Whether you're a homeowner landscaping your yard or a professional contractor digging utility trenches, remember to call 811 or Arizona Blue Stake at 1-800-STAKE-IT (1-800-782-5348) at least two working days before you dig. It's a free service, and it's required by state law.

Underground lines

Keep vegetation and permanent structures away from the large, green ground-level boxes that house components of TEP's underground electrical system. TEP workers may need to access the underground lines and equipment near these boxes during power outages and for routine maintenance.

Fallen power lines

Treat all electric lines with caution and respect. Even low-voltage electric lines and cords can be hazardous if damaged or improperly handled. And if you EVER see a downed power line, call 911 immediately; don't get near it.

Indoor safety

Keep your distance

Understanding how electricity works will enable you to use it safely around the home. Here are facts and tips that will help you avoid electrical hazards and injuries.

Electricity always seeks the path of least resistance. It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wet sod, wet wood, water ... or even your body. Your body is 70 percent water. So if you touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground, causing a harmful-or fatal-shock.

Power off

Most service panels have a main switch. Use it to cut all power when changing a breaker switch, or in case of fire or shock. If you don't have a main switch, turn off all circuit breakers. Don't tamper with your electric meter. You'll risk electrocution, explosion or fire.

Check wiring

  • Do fuses blow or circuit breakers trip often?
  • Do toasters or irons not get as hot as they should?
  • Does your TV picture shrink when appliances go on?
  • Do you use extension cords because there aren't enough outlets?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, have your home inspected by a qualified technician.

Prevent electrical shocks

When you use a plug with three prongs, the third prong connects inside the outlet with a "ground wire," which usually connects to a water pipe or a ground rod at the service panel. As a result, in a short circuit, electricity should flow to the ground instead of through you. Never remove the third prong.

Test outlets

A ground fault occurs when electricity travels outside an intended path, because of a frayed wire or faulty device, and tries to get to the ground by the path of least resistance. Touch that device, and you may become that route. Unless you have an outlet with a GFCI, you may be seriously shocked or burned.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are found in outlets and service panels. They monitor the flow of current to and from appliances. If there's an imbalance in the flow, current may be traveling through you, and the GFCI will quickly cut power to prevent serious injury. GFCIs:

  • Are required in newer homes in bathrooms and garages, near sinks and outdoors.
  • Are required on some basement outlets.
  • Can be added as temporary plug-in GFCI adapters.
  • Can also be added by an electrician as replacement outlets.

If your outlets don't have GFCI test and reset buttons, check your main service panel — you may have some ground fault protected circuit breakers.