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Summer safety 101: Identify and avoid outdoor electrical hazards

Ameren offers tips to keep families safe while enjoying summertime activities

ST. LOUIS (June 10, 2024) – The first day of summer is right around the corner, which means children and adults alike are venturing back outdoors to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. But before you do, it’s important to be aware of the electrical safety hazards you may encounter.

“With the weather warming up, families and friends are spending more time enjoying outdoor activities like grilling, swimming and home improvement projects,” said Tim Frankenberg, fire safety engineer for Ameren. “Practicing electrical safety, especially when water is involved and working near power lines, is integral to keeping you and your loved ones safe.”

Ameren’s 5 tips to help keep customers safe all summer long:

  1. Charge devices away from the splash zone. While it may be more convenient to have your charging cell phone or Bluetooth speaker within reach, it is not safe to keep either next to the backyard swimming pool or by the sprinklers. Make sure to keep all electrical connections off the ground and secure your devices on top of a table away from water.
  2. Convert outdoor outlets to GFCIs. When it comes to the outdoors, you are not always in control of water’s proximity to an electrical outlet. Exterior outlets should be upgraded to Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) through a certified electrician or use an approved GFCI extension cord. These are designed to shut off the power as needed, which is why they are also commonly required in kitchens, bathrooms garages and outdoors.
  3. Use cords, lights and fans that are rated for outdoor use. The electrical cords and electronics that work inside of your home are not always safe to use outside of it. To tell what is safe, check for labels on packaging that clearly mark them as suitable for outdoor use. Also, avoid running cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged, and pair them with GFCIs instead.
  4. Stay clear of power lines and wires when trimming vegetation and performing home maintenance. It is important to assess your surroundings before starting an outdoor landscape project or home improvement and maintenance, including the location of exposed wires and overhead power lines. Avoid these areas while trimming or working in your yard or trees and call a certified professional to safely handle them. Remain at least 10 feet away from any overhead power line near your home.
  5. Call 811 before you dig. You can disrupt utility service and even put your life in danger by failing to have underground utility lines clearly marked before digging. Even do-it-yourself projects that may seem small, including planting a garden, installing a yard stake for your dog or digging a sandbox require a call to 811.

In addition, when planning summertime activities like block parties and yard sales, utility poles should not be used for decorations such as banners, ribbons or balloons. These decorations create a hazard for utility workers and many balloons can conduct electricity, creating a shock hazard or power outage.

Ameren provides a variety of safety tips for customers, including how to be safe around water and electricity, severe weather preparedness, natural gas leak detection, electrical fire safety, Call Before You Dig, and general safety reminders. All of Ameren's customer safety tips can be found at Ameren.com/Safety.

About Ameren Corporation
St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries. Ameren Illinois provides electric transmission and distribution service and natural gas distribution service. Ameren Missouri provides electric generation, transmission and distribution service, as well as natural gas distribution service. Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois develops, owns and operates rate-regulated regional electric transmission projects in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. For more information, visit Ameren.com, or follow us at @AmerenCorp, Facebook.com/AmerenCorp, or LinkedIn.com/company/Ameren.