OTEC has recently adopted the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP) in order to achieve a high standard of safety for our employees, member-owners, communities and businesses within the cooperative. We are committed to providing clear expectations, education and training to reach our goal of continually improving our safety culture. We incorporate safety as an integral aspect of all operations and a core value of OTEC.
The Senior Leadership at OTEC has given their commitment to safety through the Commitment to Zero Contacts and RESAP programs, and in return have asked for and received the same commitment from our employees. This is essential in defining and operating a successfully safety program that protects our people and the public.
Prepare to Stay Safe During Weather Emergencies
From tornadoes to floods, natural disasters can cause destruction and power outages. It is important to be prepared with needed supplies, a plan, and safety knowledge.
Put together an emergency preparedness kit that contains the essentials, including a first aid kit, flashlights, and batteries as well as enough food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. Keep your kit somewhere handy in case you have to evacuate your home in a hurry.
Get a weather radio to stay up-to-date on changes in the weather. Sign up for alerts to know if storms are coming your way. It is a good idea to utilize different forms of media, including following local news stations on social media. Some stations may even have an app that can be downloaded.
Make sure you are aware of the different weather terminology, such as the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a warning. A watch means there is the possibility of storms, and a warning means a storm has been reported and you should take cover.
Create a family plan for emergencies. Identify the responsibilities of each member of the family and places to meet in case you are separated. Ensure everyone knows what they need to do to stay safe.
Also be armed with important electrical safety knowledge should a severe storm or flooding occur:
Do not step into a flooded basement or room if the water is covering electrical outlets, appliances, or cords.
Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box or touch an electrical appliance if you are wet or in standing water. Call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional check it out before it is used. It may need to be repaired or replaced.
If the smell of gas is apparent or if there is a suspected leak in your house, leave immediately and call your gas utility.
If power lines are on the ground, stay far away from them and warn others to stay away. Contact the local electric utility because the lines could still be live.
If driving, never get out of the car if there is a downed power line, and never drive over one.
In traumatic situations, it may be instinctive to flee as soon as possible. A car accident is a good example of this. However, if you are in a car accident with a power line, the safest place is often inside the car.
When a car crashes into a power pole, the pole may fall down, lines may fall on your car or nearby, and the area around your car may become charged with electric energy. If you stepped out of the car in this scenario, your body would become the path to ground for the electricity, and you could be electrocuted.
While downed lines can sometimes show they are live by arcing and sparking with electricity, this is not always the case. Power lines do not always show signs that they are live, but are just as lethal.
Stay in the car if you are in a car accident with a power pole. Warn those who try to come near your car to help that they must stay far away. Call 911 for help, and wait until a professional from the electric utility tells you it is safe to leave the car.
The exception to this rule is if your car is on fire. In that case, jump clear of the vehicle without touching it and the ground at the same time. Then hop away with feet together. This way there will not be a voltage difference between your two feet, which would give electricity the chance to flow through your body.
If you witness a car collision with a power pole, do not approach the accident. By trying to help, you will put your own life at risk. The best thing to do is contact emergency responders and stay far away from the accident.
Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative is proud to have created a new training video in 360-degree format to teach agriculture workers about the hazards of working near power lines.
This innovative video demonstrates OTEC's commitment to our member-owners and their safety.