Safety is our priority at Laurens Electric Cooperative, for both our employees and our members.


For more information on storm and power outage safety precautions and procedures, visit our Outage Center.

Safe digging

is everyone’s responsibility. Notifying SC811 of your planned excavation can help prevent damages that can result in fines, utility service interruption and physical injury – even death.

Power Lines

Accidents, severe storms, and other disasters can cause power lines to come down. With one wrong move before, during, or after a disaster, a life can be lost.

Stay Tuned

If you know a storm is approaching, you should stay tuned to a NOAA Weather Radio as well as local radio or television stations for the latest warnings and watches.

Frequently Asked Safety Questions

  • Caution Urged When Using Back-Up Generators
    • Make sure you know how to operate the generator safely. Unsafe operation can threaten you, your family, neighbors and even the linemen working to restore power. Unsafe installation or operation may also result in a lawsuit and your insurance may not cover your liability.
    • Temporary-use generators should not be connected to the circuit breaker or fuse box and should not be plugged into a household outlet. Portable generators should only be used with extension cords to power lights and small appliances.
    • Permanently installed generators should be wired into your home by a qualified electrician, using a transfer switch that prevents potentially deadly back-feed.
    • Generators should only be operated outside a home to prevent toxic and potentially deadly exhaust from entering a home. Keep them away from children and pets.
    • When starting a generator, disconnect all appliances that might be connected to it. That will not only protect them but prevent a fuse from being blown on the generator.
    • Connect appliances to your portable generator after it has been started. Use only three-prong plugs that allow connections to be grounded.
    • When refueling generators, allow the engine to cool in order to prevent a fire should the gas tank overflow.
    • Be sure to use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for the wattage of the load being connected.
      When the generator is no longer needed, allow it to cool down before storing it.
  • Short-Term Power Failures - What to Do During a Power Outage
    • Don’t panic.
    • Check to see if your neighbors still have electricity.
    • If your neighbors have electricity, the problem could be inside your home. Check your main fuses or circuit breakers to see if they have blown or tripped.
    • If your neighbors do not have electricity, call your electric supplier. A repair person will be dispatched as quickly as possible. Your supplier should also be able to tell you if it will be an extended outage.
    • Unplug appliances with electronic components, such as microwaves, televisions, and DVD players. This will help eliminate damage to your appliances from voltage surges when the electricity is restored.
    • Wait a few minutes before turning on these appliances when the electricity is restored. This will reduce demand on the power supplier’s electrical system.
    • If you use a standby generator, be sure it has been installed and wired properly. If improperly installed, a generator could cause dangerous conditions for utility employees working to restore power.
    • Check the basement periodically for flooding. You can use a portable, gasoline-powered pump to pump out a basement or crawl space when the power is interrupted to an electric sump pump. Never wade into a flooded basement unless electricity supplying sump pumps, freezers, etc. has been disconnected.

    Prepare a kit for such emergency situations. It should include:

    • Flashlights with fresh batteries.
    • Matches for lighting gas stoves or clean burning heaters.
    • Wood for a properly ventilated fireplace.
    • First aid kit, prescription medicines, and baby supplies.
    • Food that can be kept in coolers and a manual can opener.
    • A non-cordless telephone and/or fully charged cellular phone.
    • Bottled drinking water.
    • Battery-powered emergency lights and radio.
  • Summer Power Outages - What to Do During a Power Outage
    • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Wrap blankets around the appliances to provide extra insulation.
    • Make sure you have bottled water and a supply of freeze-dried or canned food in your emergency kit to prevent dependence on your refrigerator.
    • A barbecue grill is an excellent way to prepare food. A charcoal grill should always be used outside.
    • Air conditioners should be turned off during power outages. Do not turn them back on for several minutes after the power has been restored.
    • Dress comfortably, and use natural ventilation to keep your home cool.
    • If the health of family members is a concern, stay with friends or family or go to a shelter.
    • Your electricity supplier should be notified if you use life support equipment in your home.
  • Winter Power Outages - What to Do During a Power Outage
    • Dress warmly. Several layers of clothing provide better insulation than a single layer of heavier clothing.
    • Move to a single room, preferably one with few windows. Ideally, this room should be on the south side of the home for maximum heat gain in the daytime.
    • The room should also be shut off from the rest of the house.
    • If you use an alternate heat source, be sure and follow operating instructions.
    • To keep your water pipes from freezing, a small stream of water can be left on to prevent this.
  • Extended Power Outage/Home Shutdown - What to Do During a Power Outage
    • Unplug everything in your home. Turn off breakers or remove fuses. Leave one lighting circuit on so you know when the electricity comes back on.
    • Winterize your water supply system completely. Be sure to disconnect the electrical supply to the water heater before draining.
    • The drainage system in the home also needs to be winterized. This is done by pouring antifreeze into the traps in the drains below sinks, toilets, washing machines, etc.
    • Empty all food from freezers and refrigerators, and leave doors open.
    • If your home is equipped with an electric heat pump, special care is needed when turning the unit on after an extended outage. It takes a period of time (check with dealer) for the lubricant in the refrigerant to warm up.
    • Keep curtains closed except on south-facing windows in the winter when the sun is shining.
  • Storm Safety Before and After - Before a Storm
    • Assemble an emergency kit with flashlights, battery-powered communication devices, and the food, water, and medical needs of your family to survive prolonged power outages.
    • Stay tuned to severe storm information from the National Weather Service, and be aware that lightning presents a danger 10 miles ahead of a storm front.
  • Storm Safety Before and After - After a Storm
    • Storm debris can hide dangers, such as downed or sagging power lines. Use caution in any cleanup effort. Any downed wires should be considered energized and potentially dangerous. Stay away, warn others to stay away, and call the utility.
    • If power lines come down on or around your vehicle, call for help and remain in the vehicle. Do not attempt to get out until a utility lineman can assure you the power has been turned off.
    • Do not use electric yard tools to clean up after a storm if it is raining or the ground is wet.
      Never step into a flooded basement if water could be covering electrical outlets or appliances that are plugged in.
    • Do not attempt to shut the power off at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. Stay out of flooded rooms and basements until you are assured the power has been cut off.
    • Electric motors can be damaged when wet and should not be used after a storm until checked by a professional. Have damaged appliances repaired or replaced.
    • Only use generators outdoors. Connect lights and appliances to the generator using extension cords. Do not connect directly to the home circuitry unless there is a transfer safety switch to isolate the power. Without that safety feature, electricity could “back feed” into the utility system, creating danger for anyone near lines, particularly utility crews working to restore power.
  • Be Prepared for Ice Storms and Winter Power Outages

    Assembling supplies before a storm arrives is one of the keys to weathering a winter storm emergency. Make sure your supply kit includes:

    • Flashlights with fresh batteries.
    • Matches for lighting gas stoves or clean burning heaters.
    • Wood for a properly ventilated fireplace.
    • First aid kit, prescription medicines, and baby supplies.
    • Food that can be kept in coolers and a manual can opener.
    • A non-cordless telephone and/or fully charged cellular phone.
    • Bottled drinking water.
    • Battery-powered emergency lights and radio.

    Maintaining warmth is a priority during a winter storm. Loss of body heat or hypothermia can be life threatening.

    • Stay inside and dress warmly in layered clothing.
    • Close off unneeded rooms.
    • When using an alternate heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards, and be sure to properly ventilate.
    • Stuff towels and rags underneath doors to keep the heat in.
    • Cover windows at night.
    • Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants and people over the age of 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.

    Knowing how to keep your home and loved ones safe is also important:

    • Switch off lights and appliances to prevent overloading circuits and damaging appliances when power is restored. Leave one lamp or switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
    • To prevent water pipes from freezing, keep faucets turned on slightly so that water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe burst.
    • Never use a charcoal grill to cook with or heat the home. Burning charcoal gives off deadly carbon monoxide gas. Charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.

    When outside, stay away from downed power lines.

    • A power line does not need to be sparking or arcing to be energized, even if it is sagging close to or on the ground. Be aware that other utility lines can also become energized by being in contact with an electrical line.
    • Lines that appear to be “dead” can become energized as crews work to restore power or, sometimes, from improper use of emergency generators. Assume all low and downed lines are energized and dangerous. If you see a downed or sagging line, contact your utility.
    • Motorists should never drive over a downed line as snagging a line could pull down a pole or other equipment and cause other hazards.
    • Be careful when approaching intersections where traffic or crossing lights may be out.
  • What to Do in Vehicle Accidents That Involve Power Lines

    Instincts can help us to avoid danger but in some situations, our natural inclinations can lead to tragic results. If your car hits a utility pole or otherwise brings a power line down, getting out of a vehicle, with few exceptions, is the wrong thing to do until the line has been de-energized. Know the right steps to take to save your life:

    • You are almost always better off to stay in the car, especially if the line is in contact with the vehicle.
    • Call or signal for help. It is safe to use a cell phone.
      Warn others who may be nearby to stay away, and wait until the electric utility arrives to make sure power to the line is cut off.
    • If the power line is still energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path to ground for that electricity, and electrocution is the tragic result. Wait until the electric utility arrives and shuts off the power.
    • The only exception would be if a fire or other danger, like the smell of gasoline, is present. In that case, the proper action is to jump—not step—with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Hop to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area. Like ripples in a pond or lake, the voltage diminishes the farther out it is from the source. Stepping from one voltage level to another allows the body to become a path for that electricity.
    • Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area near your car to be energized. Stay inside the vehicle unless there is fire or imminent risk of fire.
    • The same rules apply to situations involving farm equipment and construction equipment that comes in contact with overhead lines. Those working with large equipment should stay inside the vehicle if equipment extensions come in contact with power lines.
  • Downed Power Lines

    Accidents, severe storms, and other disasters can cause power lines to come down. With one wrong move before, during, or after a disaster, a life can be lost. Know the right steps to take to keep you and your family safe:

    • If you see downed power lines or other damaged electrical equipment, notify the local electric utility as soon as possible because the lines could still be live.
    • Just because power lines are damaged does not mean they are dead. Stay away, and instruct others to do the same.
    • Power lines do not have to be arcing or sparking to be live and dangerous.
    • Downed power lines, stray wires, and debris in contact with them all have the potential to deliver a fatal shock. Stay clear of fallen power lines and damaged areas that could hide a hazard. Be alert during clean-up efforts.
    • Treat all power lines as if they are energized until there is certainty that power has been disconnected.
    • If a power line has landed on the ground, there is the potential for the area nearby to be energized. Stay far away, and warn others to do the same.
    • Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line.
    • If you are driving and come along a downed power line, stay away and warn others to stay away. Contact emergency personnel or your utility company to address the downed power line.
    • If power lines should fall on your vehicle while you are driving, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help, and stay inside until utility crews say it is safe to get out. The only exception would be if a fire or other danger, like the smell of gasoline, is present. In that case, the proper action is to jump—not step—with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Hop to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area.
    • Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or backup generators.
  • Staying Safe During Flooding

    Be alert to electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water, along with other potential hazards that create a serious risk of electrocution. Safety measures to keep in mind include:

    • Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances, or cords.
    • Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you cannot reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
      Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches, or fuses when you are wet or standing in water.
    • Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it is raining or the ground is wet.
      Electric motors in can be damaged when wet and should not be used after a storm until they have been inspected and approved by a professional. It may be necessary to have some of them repaired or replaced.
      A good safety measure is to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) professionally installed on outlets. GFCIs are recommended for outdoor outlets and outlets near wet areas of the home such as kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms.
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