Use electricity wisely and safely. Electrocution from exposure to live wires or anything that might have been electrified by them is a risk during an emergency. Know where the main electric switch is in your home; it may be a pull handle or large circuit breaker in your fuse box. Make sure you shut off the electricity if:

  • you smell burning material during a power outage,
  • the area around electrical switches or plugs turns black or is hot,
  • any electrical devices or large appliances are burning, or
  • you smell burning insulation, which has a very distinct odor.

Before you do any digging, you are required by law to call JULIE or DIGGER. Whether you are planting a tree, building a fence or laying foundation, contacting a line with a shovel or pick can damage power lines -- and injure or kill. JULIE or DIGGER will notify all utilities, who will then mark the locations of underground gas, electric and telephone lines in your neighborhood or work area.

JULIE (Outside Chicago)
Phone: 811 or 800-892-0123

DIGGER (Inside Chicago)
Phone: 312-744-7000

Follow these safety tips

  • Call 9-1-1 if you see a downed wire.

  • Keep yourself and others away from any fallen power lines. You never know when lines might be live.

  • If a line falls on your vehicle, stay inside it. If you must get out, jump clear of the fallen line; do not touch any part of your car and the ground at the same time.

  • If your basement floods, don't enter unless you're sure the water isn't in contact with a source of electricity, such as an appliance, electrical outlet, or extension cord. If you're not sure, call a qualified electrician to disconnect the power before entering.

  • If an electrical appliance catches fire, NEVER use water to try to put it out -- it can conduct the electricity back to you. Unplug it, or turn off the fuse or circuit to the outlet. It's a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher handy for situations like this.

  • If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, don't reach in to get it. Unplug it first by pulling on the cord, not the plug.

  • If someone receives an electrical shock, attempt to turn the power source off. Never touch the victim yourself. Call for medical assistance immediately.

  • Protect sensitive equipment. Variations in the flow of electricity can damage highly sensitive electronic equipment. To protect appliances and electronic equipment, consider purchasing a surge protector. These devices can be purchased at area home centers.

  • Always assume power lines are live. This applies to power lines on utility poles as well as those entering your home or buildings. Even momentary contact can injure or kill. Always keep yourself, your equipment, and anything you carry at least 10 feet from power lines. Even though you may notice a covering on a line, never assume it is safe to touch.

  • Never stand ladders near power lines. When you work on or near ladders, keep all tools, the ladder, and anything you carry well away from power lines. Contact with a power line can cause serious burns or electrocution. Remember to work a safe distance from all power lines. Keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines and 25 feet from transmission tower lines.

  • Don't climb or trim trees near power lines. Hire a qualified contractor to trim trees near power lines. If you have any questions about removing limbs or trees near power lines, call your utility company.

  • Keep children from climbing trees near power lines.