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a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is June 22, 2018


‘Look up’ is life-saving advice

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

    They’re so common most people hardly notice them. And therein lies the problem.
   Nearly everywhere we go, power lines surround us. They may appear lifeless but just the opposite is true. Power lines hum 24/7 with electricity moving at the speed of light from the generating plant to wherever you need it.
   The lines are suspended high overhead or buried in the ground for good reason: Human contact with a power line is always disastrous.
   Electric cooperative linemen make working on the lines look easy, but every move they make around electricity is carefully considered. These are highly trained and experienced workers who have the utmost respect for electricity.
    Tragedy occurs when anyone gets careless with electricity. You can’t see or smell it. The only sure way for you to prevent contact is to stay far away from power lines—whether they are “live” or not. Should a spring storm or other circumstances bring down a line near you, please report the situation immediately to your electric cooperative, or call 911.
   People working outdoors must constantly be aware of power lines to avoid electrocution and serious injury. The use of backhoes, cranes, ladders, scaffolding and other equipment or materials carries a high risk of accidental power line contact when workers are not paying attention.
   In fact, working too close to power lines is illegal. Mississippi’s “10-foot rule” prohibits the public from conducting activities within 10 feet of a power line.
    If the power lines serving your property or job site are buried underground, you must know their exact location before doing any excavation work. Call 811 to have the locations of all underground utilities marked before you dig or drill. Find out more about this free service and related state law requirements at the Mississippi 811 website,
    Electrical safety is just as important to your daily activities inside the home. If your household includes young children, you should have tamper-resistant receptacles to child-proof the electrical outlets. Plastic outlet caps are easy for determined young fingers to pry off; tamper-resistant receptacles are far more effective at keeping kids safe by preventing objects from being inserted into the outlet.
    Another life-saving device for the home is the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), a safety outlet that protects people from electrical shock. A GFCI monitors the flow of electrical current to the appliance plugged into it; when it detects an abnormal flow, it shuts off the electricity to the appliance.
    The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that 50 percent of home electrocutions have been prevented since the introduction of the GFCI in the 1970s.
    Electrical safety extends to the home workshop and garage too. Store power tools in a secure, dry place, and never use them in wet or damp conditions. Use a heavy-duty extension cord if you must, but never a cord rated only for indoor use. And before you plug in any power tool, make sure the power switch is turned off.
    Electrical safety is not just for grownups. Kids need to know that electricity can strike like a snake when you get too close. Please help the children in your world stay safe through your own example and guidance.
    Today in Mississippi readers know we promote electrical safety often in the publication. But with May being National Electrical Safety Month, we want to repeat our electrical safety mantra:
    Never, ever touch a power line for any reason. You may not live to regret it.

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