Make safety a priority. While we take every measure to prevent problems and reduce risks for every customer, there are inherent dangers associated with electricity.
Always call before you dig. There may be utility lines under the ground that you are not aware of.
Call 8-1-1 or 1-202-265-7177 before you dig.
Pepco has electric lines in many streets throughout the region. There may be an electric line in front of your property if you live in Pepco's service territory. For this reason, you should be aware of what lines are underground.
The law requires 2 business days notice before you dig anywhere in the District of Columbia or Maryland. Miss Utility will notify all member utilities of your plan to dig. The utilities will then mark out the underground facilities.
Ensure all electrical equipment is in good working order.
Keep all electrical cords in good condition. Don't run them under rugs or furniture and never staple or nail them in place.
Check your appliances and power tools for the UL (Underwriters' Laboratories) seal, signifying that they've been tested for safety. Be sure to repair or replace any tools that are damaged.
Remind children not to put anything into an electrical outlet. Use plastic outlet caps if there are young ones at home.
Whether indoors or out, water and electricity can be a deadly combination.
Don't use a plugged-in appliance, like a hair dryer, when standing on a damp floor or in a wet bathtub or shower.
Never set a radio, telephone or any other electrical appliance on the edge of a tub or sink. If you want music in the bathroom, get a battery-operated radio meant for use near water.
If a plugged-in appliance does fall into water, don't reach in to get it out. Unplug it first by pulling on the cord, not the plug. If the outlet has a GFCI, it will automatically disconnect the circuit in case of an accident like this.
Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in bathroom outlets and other areas where water and electricity might meet.
If your basement floods, don't enter unless you are sure the water isn't in contact with a source of electricity. Call a qualified electrician to disconnect the power before you enter a flooded basement.
Never touch anything electrical if you are wet or standing in water.
Be prepared ahead of time with essential items and information. Before a storm hits or an outage occurs, it's good to be prepared...
Keep Pepco's emergency telephone number, 1-877-737-2662, handy with other emergency numbers near the telephone. Have at least one standard non-cordless telephone or a cellular phone available to make calls.
Have a flashlight with fresh batteries on each floor of your home.
Avoid using candles; a battery-operated lantern would be a better bet. If using candles, never leave them unattended.
Have a battery-powered clock.
Have a supply of bottled water and easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods available for extended outages. Make sure you have enough water for drinking and cooking.
Have sensitive electronic appliances, like microwave ovens, televisions and computers, protected with a voltage surge suppressor. The suppressor can eliminate the surge from lightning, fallen poles or other accidents before the surge can enter equipment and protects valuables from damage. If appliances are not protected, unplug them before a storm.
Check the fuse or circuit breaker box to see if a fuse tripped inside the home.
Check with the neighbors to see if their power is out.
Call Pepco at 1-877-737-2662 as soon as possible. Remember, call volume can become very busy during storms and the automated, interactive system allows the company to accept thousands of calls at a time and get your information to the right people faster. When more customers call, we can better manage our response efforts. Outages can also be reported on-line.
Be sure to request a customer service representative if you can describe damage that has occurred, such as a downed pole or wires, etc.
Once the cause of the outage is known, Pepco will do our best to provide you with updates on power restoration and when you can expect service to be restored. In most cases, outages are restored in less than two hours, longer during storms.
Turn off and unplug most appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored, and keep a couple of lights on so you'll know when service is back.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Resist the urge to frequently check on foods. Move meats, cheese, milk etc. into the freezer compartment since it will stay colder longer. If the freezer is partially full, it can keep meat frozen for up to 24 hours and up to 48 hours when full. Fill the freezer and refrigerator with bottles filled with water to occupy more space. Wrap the refrigerator/freezer in a blanket to keep it insulated and preserve foods longer.
Dry ice, available at some retail stores, can be used to preserve frozen foods for longer than 24 hours but presents safety concerns. Dry ice is hazardous material and must be handled with care because it can cause severe burns. Food that directly touches dry ice can get freezer burns. Dry ice should not be used in a smaller cooler with food or medicines that are needed and could become frozen.
Pepco will not supply dry ice during weather-related events, so that the company can focus its resources on power restoration activities.
Don't connect your generator directly to your home's wiring. Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home's wiring can "backfeed" onto the power lines connected to your home. Utility transformers can then "step-up" or increase this backfeed to thousands of volts - enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house.
Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage. Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide. Be sure to place the generator where exhaust fumes will not enter the house. Only operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed or carport.
Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet. Plugging a generator into a regular household outlet can energize "dead" power lines and injure neighbors or utility workers.
Don't overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator. Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics.
Use the proper power cords. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Don't use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding.
Read and adhere to the manufacturer's instructions for safe operation. Don't cut corners when it comes to safety. Carefully read and observe all instructions in your portable electric generator's owner manual.
Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.
Wait a few minutes and plug appliances back in one at a time.
Make a list of items you wish you had and restock for the next emergency.
Pepco urges you to stay away from overhead power lines. Keep people, tools, and equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead distribution power lines carrying up to 50kV. For transmission lines stay at least 25 feet away.
Be aware of the power lines where you live and work. Always assume power lines are energized. This includes power lines on utility poles as well as those entering your home or buildings. 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. Stay Away!
Never stand ladders near power lines. When working on or near ladders, keep all tools, the ladder, and anything you carry well away (at least 10 feet) from power lines.
Keep all cranes, scaffolding, and high reach equipment away from overhead power lines. You do not have to make actual contact with an overhead power line to cause a flash which can cause serious burns or electrocution. Never use cranes, derricks or lifting equipment within 20 feet of power lines unless you have notified Pepco and know clearance requirements. When performing construction activities, keep people, tools, and equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines carrying up to 50kV and 25 feet for transmission lines (wires on steel poles or towers). If overhead lines are present and you or your equipment will be working within these distances, the law requires that you MUST contact Pepco at 1-202-833-7500 prior to the start of any work.
Keep yourself and others away from any fallen power lines. You never know when they might be energized. Call Pepco at 1-877-737-2662 right away and report the location of the downed wires. If a line falls on your car, stay in your car. If you must get out of the car, jump clear, do not touch any part of your car and the ground at the same time and stay clear of the fallen line.
Do not climb or trim trees near power lines and keep children from doing the same. Hire a qualified contractor to trim trees near power lines. Contact Pepco if you have any questions about removing limbs or trees near power lines.
You are required by law to call Miss Utility at 811 to locate gas, electric, and other underground utility lines before you dig. 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.
Contact Pepco if you are conducting any work or activity that may bring yourself, your equipment, and anything you carry within 10 feet of a power line. If you need to work around aerial power lines please call Pepco at 1-202-833-7500.
Electrical disturbances, known as surges, have a number of causes such as lightning or falling tree limbs. Pepco recommends using good-quality surge protection equipment for all sensitive electronic equipment.
Electrical disturbances, known as surges, have a number of causes such as lightning, falling tree limbs, etc. Most of the time, surges are harmless. However, occasionally, a surge can cause damage to electrical equipment in your home.
Pepco recommends using good-quality surge protection equipment for all electronics, or consider getting whole house protection to safeguard your equipment. With so many devices on the market, how do you know if you're selecting a reliable one? Here are some tips:
Most of us like 'power strips' because they have multiple outlets. Be aware that a power strip is not necessarily a surge protector.
Select a known industry manufacturer.
Look for a multi-year product warranty and check for a 'connected equipment damage warranty.'
Some vendors provide this 'insurance' starting at $2500
Make sure that there is an easy and clear way to contact the manufacturer for support.
Select a product that has indicators that your wiring is functioning (site wiring fault indicator) and the product's protection is sound.
Look for the UL listing details (on the package or the product) showing voltage ratings of 330V between L-N, L-G and N-G.
For TVs, select a surge protector that incorporates coaxial (TV cable) protection.
These products are recommended for home computers. Their purpose is to keep the power on during short interruptions, and in case of an outage they allow you to save your work and shut down the computer properly. Here are some tips on selecting a battery backup:
Select a known industry manufacturer.
Make sure that there is an easy and clear way to contact the manufacturer for support.
Look for built-in surge protection (some units carry surge protection warranties).
Choose one with a long term 'all inclusive' (including the batteries) warranty.
Check to see if it has an audible alarm when the unit goes on battery.
Look for UL 1778 and FCC Part 15 Class B listings.
Just like Pepco works to protect the equipment that delivers electricity to you and your community, there are things that you can do to protect the electric equipment that serves your home.
To ensure the safe and efficient operation of electric meters, Pepco offers several safety tips to customers. If you are planning a renovation or new construction project, please share these safety tips with your contractor or builder.
Pepco must have access to the meter in order to read, test or maintain it; or remove and replace as necessary.
There should be a minimum of three feet clear space around the meter box at all times.
No permanent obstructions - such as trees, bushes, cabinets or walls – should be placed in front of the meter.
In buildings served with electricity, safety codes require all metal objects to be connected/bonded to the "earth ground".
It is important that you contact a licensed electrician to perform the work necessary to obtain the bonding required by national codes.
If metering equipment is to be installed within three feet of an area subject to vehicle traffic (driveway, alley, garage, etc.), you will be required, at your expense, to provide protection for the equipment – typically a concrete-filled steel bollard or bollards.
Fuses and circuit breakers are important pieces of equipment that protect your home or business by making sure that the electricity does not exceed safe levels.
When a fuse blows or a breaker is tripped, disconnect the appliances that stopped working when the power went out. Replace a blown fuse with a new one of the proper size and amperage. Do not replace a fuse with one of a larger size. This may cause a fire in your house wiring.
When a fuse blows or trips a circuit breaker, flip it all the way off and then flip it back in line with the other breaker switches. If the fuse continues to blow or a breaker keeps tripping, call a qualified electrician immediately.
Remaining safe this holiday is a vital part of enjoying the season. Remain aware of overhead line clearance while putting up holiday lighting.
Turn off all decorative lighting when leaving the house and before going to bed.
Follow the manufacturer's limits for the number of strings that can safely be connected together.
Check all light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires.
Discard all damaged sets of lights.
Consider using energy efficient lighting products.
Ensure that lights used to decorate the outside of the house are approved for outdoor use; never use indoor lights outside.
Do not place yourself or any object where you or it may come in contact with a power line.
Keep at least 10 feet away from all overhead lines.
Make sure tree limbs have not grown into or near power lines. Branches or entire trees can become energized if they come in contact with a power line.
Route cords inside your home so they are not a tripping hazard.
Do not place cords under rugs, furniture or other appliances. Cords can overheat or become frayed and cause a fire.
If you have a real Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered.
Do not use real candles. If you do, keep all burning candles within sight and extinguish them before leaving the room or going to bed.
Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface and away from children and pets.
Be careful and watch for overhead lines before raising ladders or other objects.
Maintain three points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder.
Make sure that the ladder's feet are firmly set and square before climbing.
Have a spotter at the base of the ladder.
Keep all flammable household items at least three feet away from the appliance.
Never start your fire with gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquids.
Do not use logs made from wax and sawdust in your wood stove or fireplace insert. They are for open hearth fireplaces.
Keep the doors of your wood burning appliance closed unless you are loading or stoking the fire.
Regularly remove the ashes into a metal container with a lid and store outside away from the home.
Keep a fire extinguisher near the appliance. Make sure it has not passed its expiration date and it has the correct pressure.
Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected each year.
Remember to test and change the batteries on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors twice a year and be mindful of their expiration dates.