Home Safety

Used with care, electricity is safe and improves our quality of life. But it can cause death or injury if used improperly. Remember that electricity always seeks a path to the ground. If you become part of that path to ground, you are in danger of electrocution or serious injury.

In your home

  • Never mix water and electricity. That means do not allow a hair dryer, radio, or other electronic device to be used around water – especially the bathtub.
  • Make sure bathroom outlets have a ground fault interrupter, or GFI, device installed. The GFI will trip the electric circuit if a fault is detected.
  • Replace cut, punctured, or worn electric cords. Never run a cord under a rug or through a wet area.
  • Use three-pronged plugs. The third prong grounds the circuit and prevents shocks.
  • Don’t mess with breaker panels or fuse boxes. If a circuit trips and you are not sure why, call a licensed electrician.

During an outage

  • Turn off electric ovens or space heaters that may have been in use when the outage occurred.
  • Unplug home electronics that could suffer damage when power is restored.
  • Consider using outdoor solar lights or battery-operated lanterns as a light source during an outage.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed, to help your appliances stay cooler longer.

Electrical fire prevention

  • If fuses blow, circuits trip, or someone gets a shock, your home has an electrical problem. Get an electrical inspection.
  • Unplug any appliance that sparks, smokes, or suddenly stops running.
  • If an electrical fire starts at a wall outlet, dial 911 to report the emergency. Give your address and tell them it’s an electrical fire.
  • Do not use water to extinguish an electrical fire. Water conducts electricity, and you could get an electric shock. Use an extinguisher that is approved for use on electrical fires.

Outdoor Safety

Most outdoor electrical accidents result from contact with overhead electric conductors.

Here are some tips:

  • Stay clear of downed power lines. Treat any downed lines as if they are energized.
  • You don’t have to touch a wire to be electrocuted. Electrical current can flow through water, metal, or wet ground. If you are too close, you can be hurt or killed.
  • Always keep yourself and metal objects at least 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Always use grounded, three-prong extension cords outside.
  • Ground Fault Interrupters, or GFIs, are a good investment for all outdoor circuits.
  • If you plan to dig more than 12 inches underground, call the Oregon Utility Notification Center by dialing 811. Learn more about 811 here.
  • Don’t fly drones near overhead power lines.
  • Never remove anything that gets entangled in overhead power lines, on a pole, or in a tree near power lines. Call McMinnville Water and Light for removal.
  • Teach kids to stay away from electric utility facilities and not to climb fences around these facilities.

Trees and Safety

McMinnville has an abundance of trees, but the leading cause of accidental contact with power lines in Oregon is tree trimming or tree removal.

Follow these common-sense safety tips:

  • Look up! If you see a wire in the area where you want to work, call MW&L at (503) 472-6158.
  • Don’t build a tree house in trees with power lines in them or near them.
  • Don’t prune a limb that is near or touching a wire. Tree limbs contain water and can conduct electricity.
  • If possible, let a professional do your tree trimming.
  • Although the “service” wire (from the transformer to the connection at your house) usually is insulated, never consider it safe to work around. The insulation can be worn, creating a hazard.
  • Remember that metal ladders and other tree-trimming equipment are excellent conductors of electricity. Stay clear of wires.

For more information on tree pruning and selection, go to the Tree Trimming section of the website.