Follow these guidelines to help you and your family stay safe around electricity.
Stay away from fallen lines
Dial 911 to report an emergency. Report a downed line to MidAmerican Energy by calling 800-799-4443.
- Power lines can be dangerous. Always assume a fallen line is energized.
- You can’t tell if a power line is live simply by looking at it.
- Stay away from anything touching the line, such as a tree or branch, fence, vehicle – or even a person. Do not try to move a fallen line with a stick, branch or an object, as it could potentially conduct electricity – especially if it’s wet or even damp – and the result could be dangerous or deadly.
- Fallen lines are most common after storms and high winds. If you are outside after a storm, watch for lines that may be hard to see in streams or puddles. Don’t touch or step in water if there’s a downed line nearby. And don’t drive over a downed line.
Shuffle – don't run – from a fallen line
Electricity from a live wire travels through the ground in all directions, though increasing the distance from the point of contact can reduce the voltage. If you are near a fallen line, shuffle away in small steps, keeping your feet together and keeping both feet on the ground. If you run or take large steps, you increase the chance that you could be shocked.
If your vehicle contacts a power line, follow these tips:
- Stay in the vehicle. When inside, you are not a part of electricity's path to the ground. Don't touch metal parts of the vehicle.
- Wait until a qualified person can verify the line is not energized and tells you it’s safe to leave the vehicle.
- If people come near the car to help you, warn them to stay far away. If you haven’t called for help, ask them to dial 911 and MidAmerican Energy at 800-799-4443.
- If you MUST leave the car because of fire or other danger, try to jump clear of the vehicle so you don't touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Land with both feet together. Shuffle away, keeping your feet together and on the ground. If you must get small children out of the vehicle, hold them close to your body while you jump from the car and shuffle away.
If another vehicle contacts a power line, don’t touch it or anyone inside
- Dial 911 immediately and then report it to MidAmerican Energy at 800-799-4443.
- Don’t approach the vehicle.
- Don't touch the vehicle or try to rescue anyone inside it. If you do, you may become a path for electricity to reach the ground and become a victim yourself!
- Tell anyone in the vehicle to stay inside, keep calm, and wait for help.
Your home’s main electric panel
Your main electric panel (also called a service panel, breaker panel or load center) distributes incoming power to circuits throughout the home.
The panel’s circuit breakers or fuses are safety mechanisms that can stop the flow of current to circuits and appliances. If there’s an electrical problem, the panel’s components can help avoid the risk of a shock hazard or electrical fire.
Know where your panel is located and make sure it’s always accessible so you can turn off your electric supply in an emergency or restore circuits when needed.
If your panel has a main switch, which is usually located at the top of the main panel, use it to cut off all power before changing a fuse, or in case of an electrical fire, shock or emergency that requires turning off your electric supply.
If you don't have a main switch, turn off all circuit breakers to cut power to the home.
If you need to turn off power to a single circuit, use a voltage tester to make sure the power is truly off for that circuit.
Resetting breakers and replacing fuses
Turn off or disconnect anything that may have caused a circuit breaker to trip or fuse to blow.
If you are resetting a circuit breaker, switch the breaker firmly to the off position and then turn it on.
If you are replacing a fuse, start by turning off the main switch. Replace the fuse with the proper amperage – not a higher amperage.
Frequently blowing a fuse or tripping a breaker indicates that a circuit is overloaded or something is wrong. When this happens, seek help from a qualified electrician.
GFCI outlets prevent serious shock
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet protects you from getting a shock by quickly cutting power when it detects an interruption in the flow of current. You’ll notice a test and a reset button built into the outlet.
Grounding plugs protect you
The round plug on a three-pronged plug connects inside the outlet to a ground wire. If the outer surface of an appliance or tool becomes energized, electricity will travel to the ground through the ground wire rather than through you. Never modify or remove the third prong.
GFCIs and grounding plugs keep electricity traveling on a safe path to the ground and protect you from shock.
Electrical and extension cords
Whether it’s an electrical cord or extension cord, always pull on the plug and not the cord. Only use extension cords that are rated to match the amperage of the appliance or equipment you plan to connect. Never run appliance or extension cords under carpets, rugs or furniture.
Keep electrical cords, appliances and devices away from water and wet hands. Never use an electrical appliance near a bathtub, sink or shower unless it is battery-operated. Never touch electric cords, switches or appliances when you are wet, standing in water or have wet hands.
While a portable generator can provide backup power during an outage, knowing how to use it properly is crucial to your safety and that of your community. Follow our safety guidelines
on connecting a generator directly to your electrical service panel, setting it up in a safe place and handling both it and the fuel it requires with proper care.