Safety Tips
How Electricity Gets to Your Home

An intricate system of about 1/4 million kilometres of power lines carries electricity from generators to its final destination - home, business and industry.
Falling water or steam, from burning coal or from splitting atoms in a nuclear plant, spin huge turbine generators which produce electricity at about 20,000 volts. A volt (v) is a unit which measures the pressure of an electric current. It is the "push" behind the current.
Although only 120 or 240 v is needed to light and power your home, electricity leaves the generating station at about 20,000 v. It then passes to a step-up transformer, which increased the voltage to 115,000, 230,000 or 500,000 v depending on the amount of power to be distributed and the distance it will travel. The further electricity has to travel along transmission lines, the more power it loses along the way. Higher voltages minimize the loss. Regardless of the voltage, the amount of electricity remains the same, higher voltages just increase the pressure.
From the main transformer stations in Ontario, lower voltage lines conduct electricity to cities and major industries. These distances are usually shorter, so step-down transformers decrease the voltage to 44,000 or 27,600 v.
To be distributed through a municipal or rural district, the voltage is further decreased. Small transformers located on street poles again reduce voltages, this time to 120 or 240 v, before electricity enters your home


Electricity, when not handled safely, can be fatal.
Electricity always seeks a path to the ground, using a conductor. If you touch a live wire while you are grounded, your body will act as a conductor allowing electricity to pass through you to the ground, giving you an electric shock. The strength of the shock and the extend of the injuries sustained vary. An electrical shock can burn, cause internal bleeding or kill.
Practice safety first.
  • Don't use an electrical appliance around water or with wet hands.
  • Never put anything other than the correct plus into an electrical outlet.
  • Keep cords in good shape and discard them if frayed or worn.
  • Keep cords away from water and heat.
  • Cover unused outlets with safety covers.
  • Eliminate "octopus" connections.
  • When changing a fuse, turn off the breaker.
  • Only use the correct sized fuse.
  • Make sure all appliances have an approved label by an authorized agency, like the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
  • Disconnect appliances before cleaning.
  • Don't use water to put out an electrical fire. Use a fire extinguisher or baking soda.
  • Always exercise extreme caution when you are working or playing near power lines. A line of less than 750 volts is capable of injuring or killing someone who touches or comes close to it.
  • When carrying long tools or ladders, or operating equipment, be careful to avoid contact with overhead lines.
  • If you strike a power line, remain on the equipment. Getting out creates a path to the ground and can be fatal.
  • Don't touch a person or the equipment that has been struck by a power line while still in contact with a live power line.
  • Never climb a fence protecting electrical equipment.
  • Never fly a kite near overhead power lines.
  • Never touch wires that may have come down as they may be live.
  • Remain in your vehicle during a storm. If struck by lightning or a fallen power line, the rubber tires will stop the flow of electricity.
  • If caught outside during an electrical storm, stay away from open areas and trees. Never swim during an electrical storm as water is an excellent conductor of electricity.
Teach your children!
Electricity is safe, provided it is used properly. Teach children to play safely...away from hydro wires.
  • Remind youngsters to avoid areas marked "keep out" or "danger" and never to pull or push things into electrical outlets.
  • Warn children of the danger of touching power lines. Never fly a kite or model airplanes in the vicinity of power lines.
  • Climbing hydro poles, towers, trees near power lines or fences surrounding electrical equipment is extremely dangerous.
Electrical Emergency Rescue
If someone receives a shock from a faulty appliance and is still in contact with it, don't touch the appliance before unplugging it from the wall socket.
If a person or vehicle touches an outdoor wire, don't touch either the person or vehicle. Call your local emergency service or Northern Ontario Wires to get help or the power shut off.
Once the victim is free from the power source, begin first aid. If unconscious, not breathing or breathing erratically, use artificial respiration immediately...every second counts. Call an ambulance and don't leave the victim unattended.
If the victim is in shock, reassure them and keep them warm, but don't apply heat. Loosen clothing about the neck, chest and waist. If the victim is thirsty, give sips of water or other non-alcoholic beverages.
If burned, avoid handling the affected area. Do not apply lotions, break blisters or remove burned clothing. If possible, cover the burns including clothing with a prepared dry sterile dressing. When the skin is blistering, bandage loosely, otherwise apply bandages firmly. Don't use gauze, cotton, wool or other material that is likely to stick.
Place unconscious person gently on one side (recovery position) and don't attempt to give them anything to eat or drink.
In an emergency, remain calm and call your local emergency service for help.
Know Your Home Wiring

From the street, electricity is carried by power lines to the 'service entrance' of your home. In many newer subdivisions, power is distributed through underground lines. From the service entrance, electricity enters the 'main switch'. It is clearly marked with an "on" and "off" position and controls all the power in the house.
All lighting and general use circuits are protected by either "circuit breakers" or fuses. Fuses are generally found in older homes, and most newer electrical installations use circuit breaker panels.
When changing fuses or doing electrical work around the house, always disconnect the power by moving the main switch to the "off" position.
Never open the door of the main switch. It you suspect trouble inside it, call an electrician. Even with a burned out main fuse an the switch in the "off" position, the contacts are still live and very dangerous.
From the main switch, the panel board or fuse box splits the power into circuits that go to all rooms in the house. Fuses or circuit breakers protect each circuit and if trouble occurs, such as a short circuit or an overload, the fuse will blow or the circuit breaker will trip, stopping the flow of power to the circuit.
Circuit breaker panels or fuse boxes are usually located in the basement, and will generally provide trouble-free service with little maintenance. With fuse boxes proper care is usually as simple as using the right type and size of fuse. Overloading circuits could cause power loss or lead to fire.
Be aware of warning signals that could lead to fuse box or circuit breaker problems. Contact your electrician if circuit breakers open or fuses repeatedly blow for no apparent reason, or if you detect rust in the fuse box. Overheating and discoloration in the fuse box or flickering lights are also danger signals not to be ignored.

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