This summer make sure to not tangle with your electric systems or risk the consequences

21 May 2024- As we’ve seen in prior years, electric grids always seem to get the most continual stress to the system in the warm weather, summer months. From Hawaiian grids coming down and starting fires that torched Maui to the deadly Camp Fire being started in California by equipment from provider PG&E, electric grids remain a point of contention in the summer months.

That is why we, as consumers and those that don’t want to be down our electric systems, have to do our part in helping stop anything preventable on OUR sides.

Chad Stoneking, Director of Safety Operations at FirstEnergy: “Summer is a time for celebrations and having fun outdoors. But as we do so, we need to be sure that we are putting safety first to protect ourselves, our property and the electric grid. Keeping aware of your surroundings and making responsible decisions can help prevent unnecessary disruptions to your electric service during a time when many people rely on their air conditioning to stay cool and comfortable.”

The Electrical Safety Foundation organizes National Electrical Safety Month to emphasize the importance of electrical safety in all aspects and seasons. Early summer is a prime time for graduation parties, weddings and holiday celebrations, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, that feature items that can be hazardous to the electric grid. For example, foil balloons and fireworks can create safety issues and cause major damage to the electric system when they are used near power lines and electrical equipment.

The metallic coating of foil balloons, which have increased in popularity, conducts electricity and causes power outages when they drift into power lines or electrical equipment. In recent months, foil balloons were to blame for more than 35 power outages across FirstEnergy’s six-state service area.

Customers should securely tie helium-filled foil balloons to a weight heavy enough to prevent them from floating away, and puncture and deflate them once they are no longer in use, as they can otherwise stay inflated for several weeks. Never release them into the sky.

FirstEnergy also encourages customers to leave the large, colorful fireworks displays to the professionals. Extra caution should be used when handling fireworks, firecrackers and rockets at home, and they should only be lit in open areas where no power lines are in sight. Should a firework accidentally come in contact with a power line or equipment, leave it alone and immediately call 911 to report the problem.

To help ensure holidays and celebrations are enjoyed responsibly, customers should keep the additional outdoor safety tips in mind:

  • Never fly kites, motorized airplanes or drones near power lines. While kites almost always use cotton string, wet cotton string can conduct electricity as well as metal string.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of object that gets caught in a power line or drifts or crashes into a substation. Leave it alone and immediately call FirstEnergy at 888-544-4877 to report the problem.
  • Keep electrical devices and cords at least 10-feet away from water sources such as pools and spas. When possible, use battery-operated electrical devices outside.
  • All outdoor receptacles should be covered to keep them dry. This is especially important around pools, spas and other summer water activities.
  • When hauling a boat, make sure it clears overhead power lines and stay away from power lines when sailing.
  • Never climb a tree that is growing near or into overhead lines or near a utility pole. Also, never climb utility poles or other infrastructure, in particular transmission towers or substation fences. These activities are extremely hazardous and can result in very severe injuries.
  • Stay far away from a downed or low-hanging power line. Always assume any downed wires are energized and dangerous. Report them ASAP by calling 911.

To get familiarized with drone safety, the public can visit FirstEnergy’s Drone Safety Zone, the first video game of its kind in the utility industry that allows players to learn current rules and best practices for drone operators while racing against others.