Lightning Strikes 25 million times a year!

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that every year lightning strikes at least 25 million times, and in the United States alone, an average of 49 people are killed and 400 injured as a result of lightning each year. It is simply not safe to be outdoors during a thunderstorm. That is why NWS advises, “When thunder roars, go indoors.” However once inside a safe shelter, there are additional and important safety steps to take.

Last year, a teenage girl and her family took cover inside of their home during a tornado warning. They thought that they were safe from the effects of the storm until the daughter opened the refrigerator. She let out a scream as there was a loud boom and the house went dark. She had been struck by lightning. Fox 7 in Austin, Texas reports that although the teen is now fine, she was initially rushed to the hospital after being unable to walk, shaking with severe pain from the lightning strike.

Staying inside reduces the risk for lightning strikes, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of lightning strike injuries occur indoors. Safe Electricity recommends the following tips to help keep you safe inside the home during a thunderstorm…

  • During a storm, stay away from anything that conducts electricity inside of the home. This includes corded phones, plumbing, or running water. Cellular or cordless phones are safe to use during a storm.
  • Never use your computer, gaming systems, washer, dryer, or any other appliance that connects to an electrical outlet…

 

National Love Your Pet Day

It’s raining cats and dogs!  As a past dog(s) owner everywhere I look there is a growing number of Dog and Cat lovers! You really notice it after you no longer have a pet in your home. With the growing number of dog and cat owners, I wanted to focus this article on how to help pet owners keep their furry friends safe around electricity, and it seems really appropriate as we celebrate National Love Your Pet Day on February 20, 2016.

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4 important tips to protect your pet from electrical dangers –

  1. Some pets may find a cozy warm spot near electronics to stay warm. This is not safe. Discourage your pets from doing so, and block off electronics if you must.
  2. Make sure all electronics are completely plugged in. A visible electric prong may attract the attention of a pet. A small nose or paw could fit in a gap between a plug and outlet.
  3. If you have an aquarium, make sure you create a drip loop on every electrical cord that enters the tank.  This will prevent water from running down the cord and into the electrical outlet.  To be sure the cord stays looped, stick a cord clip on the wall just below the outlet and thread the cord into the clip….
  4. Coat cords with a bitter substance to make them undesirable to pets. Appropriate and safe products can be purchased online or at pet stores…PET SAFETy (1)

Holiday Safety Checklist!

The holiday season just would not be the same for many people without the bright and colorful light displays that decorate houses and city streets alike. Unfortunately, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that more than 12,500 people are sent to the emergency room every holiday season because of injuries sustained from lighting and decorating.  Safe Electricity provides tips for those who are undertaking holiday lighting and decorating projects to help them do safely.

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Begin by checking that every strand of lights has been tested and approved by an official lab and make sure the cord is rated for where it will be used — whether indoors or outside. Examine each strand for any fraying or damage. To prevent possible electrical shocks or fires, do not use any damaged cords. Typically, one extension cord should only have three strands of lights connected to it at most, but you should also check that the extension cord is rated for its intended use.

Lights and decorations that are outdoors should be plugged into an outlet with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. A GFCI can protect you from electrical shock from damaged or defective decorations, or accidental electrical contact with water. GFCIs can be installed in a circuit breaker box or in an outlet and can be used anywhere you need it with the portable version…Give the gift of safety this holiday season.

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Top Five Energy Efficiency Gift Ideas

Giving gifts during the holiday season has long been a way to show loved ones that you care. However, trying to figure out what to gifts to buy for certain people can be quite a difficult task. One thing everybody seems to like is saving money. The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power suggests giving your friends, family, and the environment a gift that keeps on giving this holiday season with some fun ideas that will help the recipient be more energy efficient.

“While most people might not immediately think about energy efficiency while shopping for gifts, it’s a practical gift idea that helps your loved one save energy and money at the same time,” says Renee Molyneux, Administrative Services Manager from the BLP.

Below are the Energy Education Council’s top five energy efficiency gift ideas for 2015.

        Smart Power Strip with Motion Sensor: Take energy efficiency to the next level with a smart power strip that comes with a motion sensing detector, which automatically turns the power on when you enter the room. It can also automatically turn off peripheral devices after a set amount of time after leaving the area. If you are looking for something a little less pricy, try a single outlet motion sensor for similar results.

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        Thermal Leak Detector: Set your phasors to stun with this point-and-shoot, hand-held device that measures surface temperatures so that you can pinpoint air leaks in your home. Identifying these leaks and then sealing them with weather stripping or caulk and improving insulation can help homeowners save on their energy bills.

       Portable Solar Battery Bank: A portable solar charger is a great gift for travelers, campers, and hikers. The device is able to charge a cell phone on the go, whether a person is in the car or in the wilderness. Device size varies on intended use. Some are the size of a cell phone, while others are the size of a small backpack.

        Smart LED Light Bulb: One of these energy efficient LED lights can be controlled from the palm of your hand with your smartphone device. Control features often include brightness, scheduling, and more. It can provide endless fun for gadget enthusiasts and help them save money at the same time. Choose from a variety of brands with additional features — from various color options to a built-in bluetooth speaker.

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        Whole House Energy Monitor: If you are looking for that one blockbuster gift, look no further. Some of these systems can monitor your entire home’s energy usage in real time and give you unparalleled control over how you use energy. Information can be sent directly to your computer or smartphone and is stored so you can see long-term usage data.

These are just a few of the energy efficient gift options available. Whatever gifts you decide on, if you are shopping for electronic appliances, be sure to look for the yellow Energy Star label. It can help you estimate the operating cost of a specific appliance, as well as similar models. Plus, Energy Star rated appliances are tested and approved to meet or exceed government efficiency standards.

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power wishes you a BRIGHT and safe holiday season. Visit EnergyEdCouncil.org to learn more about the safe and smart use of energy. View more energy savings gift ideas from Energy.gov.

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October is the time to discover where your Energy Vampires are hiding in your home!

You may be surprised to discover that many appliances use energy and cost you money — even after you have turned them off. An array of household appliances often referred to as energy vampires, which include everything from microwave ovens to phone chargers, can continue to leech power from your home even while they are in standby mode. The Energy Education Council shares information to help consumers identify and tame these vampires.

According to J.M. Burgett in the March 2015 issue of theJournal of Energy Research and Social Science, among some of the worst culprits are digital video recorders at 27 watts, cable boxes (with no built-in DVR) at 15 watts, and wireless routers at 6 watts. These numbers represent how much energy is expended in standby wattage per hour. It is easy to see how just a handful of appliances, even on standby mode, can end up costing upwards of around $100 annually.

Some other common household energy vampires include:

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With the average American household owning 25 consumer electronic devices, you can begin to see how these phantom loads can translate into a significant chunk of your energy bill. You don’t have to succumb, though, as there are several simple and convenient strategies that will help you drive a stake through these energy vampires from Energy.gov:

  • Unplug devices you don’t use often. This probably won’t work for your cable box or clock radio, but if you have an extra TV, an old desktop computer or a stereo you only use from time to time, you should consider unplugging them completely until the next time you need to use them.
  • Use power strips. Power strips allow you to toggle the power flow on and off. This will allow you to control the power usage of clusters of devices so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not around. Using a light switch that turns power outlets on and off accomplishes the same end, if you have one in your home.
  • Curb idle time in devices such as computers and video game consoles. Simply setting your computer to sleep mode or saving a game and powering down instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period can actually save more than $100 a year in many cases.
  • Make smart upgrades. When it comes time to send your old devices to the graveyard, you should also consider replacing them with ENERGY STAR devices. They have a lower standby consumption than your average device and generally use less energy in all their functions – a savings you should take into account when comparing similar products. Grand Haven Board of Light & Power customers earn incentives and save on your electric bill with these energy efficient upgrades! To find the rebate application go to mienergysmart.com Want to get rid of an old refrigerator or freezer for a $60 REBATE? Go to mienergysmart.com for the application form. Read Your step-by-step Guide to Energy Smart Savings from the BLP. None of these strategies will eliminate your electric bill entirely says energy.gov, but together these tricks can help you slay energy vampires while saving money, a treat you can appreciate long after Halloween has passed. Read the whole article @ Energy.gov article Are Energy Vampires Sucking You Dry?Source: Electrical Safety Foundation and Energy.gov for these energy savings tips.

Large Equipment and Power Line Safety!

The equipment used for construction and demolition is often quite tall and can be a conductor of electricity if it gets too close to overhead power lines. As a result, the operators of these vehicles need to take precautions to stay safe from a potentially deadly on-the-job accident from electric shock.

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power urges everyone to be aware of maintaining the appropriate safety clearance distance for large equipment. In 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that 8.9 percent of all construction fatalities were a result of electrocution. Being aware of and staying safely away from overhead power lines in a work zone can help to save more lives.

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OSHA suggests that the clearance for some large equipment, such as cranes and derricks, be a minimum of 20 feet from overhead power lines. The equipment’s maximum working radius, 360 degrees around the equipment, must be taken into account. A dedicated spotter is very helpful when working in close proximity to overhead lines to help the operator keep the required minimum clearance.

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power urges large equipment operators to:

  • Know the clearance rules for the equipment you are operating.
  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near overhead lines to ensure minimum clearance is maintained.
  • Always remember to lower extensions when moving loads.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out-of-the-way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, call the local utility immediately.

If your equipment has made contact with a power line, it is critical that you know what to do. If you don’t know the proper procedures for getting out of the cab, you could be injured or killed. It is almost always safest to stay on the equipment. Warn others to stay away, and call 911 and the Grand Haven BLP utility immediately. The only reason to get off the equipment is if it is on fire. If this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together and without touching the ground and equipment at the same time. Then, while still keeping your feet together, “bunny hop” away.

For more information on electrical safety, visit our safety partner  SafeElectricity.org.

College Dorm Safety

Furnishing a college dorm room comes with a lot of options for personalization — from bedding and décor to kitchen supplies and electronics. One essential for the college residence is safety.

According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 3,810 structure fires in college housing between 2007 and 2011, causing an average of 2 deaths, 30 fire injuries, and $9.4 million in direct property damage.8-2015College

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power offers the following safety tips for college students to help reduce the risk of electrical fires in their student housing:

  • Only purchase and use electrical products tested for safety. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a list of approved testing laboratories.  Some common approved safety labels include: UL, CSA, and MET.
  • Avoid overloading extension cords, power strips, or outlets.
  • Use power strips with an over-current protector that will shut off power automatically if too much current is being drawn.
  • If use of an appliance frequently causes power to trip off, or if its power cord or the outlet feels hot, the appliance should be disconnected immediately and the condition reported to the landlord or campus housing staff.
  • Never tack or nail an electrical cord to any surface or run cords across traffic paths or under rugs where they can be trampled or damaged.
  • Use the correct wattage light bulbs for lamps and fixtures. If no indication is on the product, do not use a bulb with more than 60 watts. Use cooler, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
  • Keep all electrical appliances and cords safely away from bedding, curtains, papers, and other flammable material.
  • Make sure outlets around sinks are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) before use. If they are not, contact the resident assistant, camping housing staff, or landlord.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use and all electronics when away for extended periods.
  • Always use microwave-safe containers. Metal and aluminum foil can damage the microwave or start a fire. If the microwave is damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • Smoke detectors should never be disabled, and fire alarms should never be ignored or taken casually as a drill. Every time a fire alarm sounds, residents should calmly and quickly follow practiced procedures and immediately exit the building.

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power is a proud member of Safe Electricity providing electrical safety information.