Electrical Safety Tips & Resources

Call Before You Dig

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that any person planning on digging has to first find underground utilities.

Underground utilities include: Water Pipes, Gas Lines, Sewage Lines, Electrical Wires, Cable TV and Telephone. It’s hard to know where they are without proper locates by the utility provider such as Lakefront, Cogeco, Union Gas, Bell, or the Town of Cobourg.

Serious injury or death can be caused if someone digs into an underground electric cable.

For Free electric underground locates, please contact ON1Call at , or visit their website at ON1Call.

ON1Call will help you to identify companies who may have underground cables and forward a locate request to each of these companies.

Call ON1Call when digging for:

  • tree planting
  • party tents
  • children’s inflatable activity centres
  • fence posts
  • decks
  • pool excavation
  • anytime you are going to put an anchor peg or shovel in the ground

 Lakefront Utilities Inc. will receive the request and provide an underground cable location service at no charge during normal working hours within 5 working days from your request.

We mark the location of any buried line in RED, so you know where you can dig safely. For guidelines regarding how to proceed near buried cables, read the Electrical Safety Association GUIDELINE FOR EXCAVATION NEAR UTILITY LINES.

Making contact with underground power lines can cause serious injury – even death, so please call ahead.

Following up with Lakefront Utilities

If you need to follow-up on a locate request, you must have a ticket number from the ON1Call service before you follow the prompts on our Lakefront Utilities main line 905-372-2193 to connect with our locates staff.

Freeze Up Period

Lakefront Utilities discontinues underground service installations during the normal Freeze Up period of mid November to mid May each year.

To be eligible for installation prior to Freeze Up, a service must have an Electrical Safety Authority inspection completed by November 1 of each year.

During this period, all customers, including residential customers in subdivisions, will be responsible for the digging and backfilling of their own trench for all underground services.

For any further information and options, please contact Lakefront Utilities at 905-372-2193

Reconnecting After a Flood

When flood water makes contact with electrical systems it leads to a heightened risk of electric shock that could result in serious injury or death. Follow these Flood Safety electrical safety steps; it could save your life, or the lives of first responders and utility personnel working in the area.

Electrical equipment and wiring that has been exposed to water through flooding may be dangerous if re-energized without proper evaluation and reconditioning or replacement by qualified persons. Power should be disconnected at the service by ensuring that the main switch is left in the “off” position until all electrical equipment has been tested.

If your power has been disconnected because of rising water, Lakefront Utilities must receive authorization from the Electrical Safety Authority in order to restore your power.

Documentation for Insurance or Other Claim

  1. For insurance or other claim purposes, Lakefront Utilities will be able to provide a letter documenting any additional cost for electricity incurred that may have been related to flood clean-up.
  2. Customers need to request the information by calling our customer services with their name, affected address and account number.

Call 905-372-2193 during business hours Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. After hours, you can send your request via email to lusi@lusi.on.ca

Will Lakefront Utilities Provide a Rebate?

This is not a rebate program. We will document any increase in electricity use for the period following the flooding incident and compare this consumption to the same period during the previous year. The cost difference will be calculated and provided as part of the documentation.

Will I still have to pay my full electrical bill?

Customers are responsible to pay Lakefront Utilities for the use of electricity. The documentation is for the purposes of presenting a claim with your house insurance.

When can I call for this?

You can call to request the documentation at any time. Because of billing periods, we need to wait until a comparable billing period has passed in order to properly do a comparison. This is expected to be started in early August.

Tree Trimming

Trees planted under power lines can grow to be a hazard. Not only can they be the cause of power outages, they can also endanger adventurous, tree-climbing children.

Why Does Lakefront Utilities Trim Trees?

Lakefront Utilities has an aggressive tree trimming program that maintains and removes trees and limbs along utility easements to prevent contact with high voltage electrical wires. The purpose of the program is to ensure public safety and to provide a reliable electrical service to all of our customers by preventing unscheduled power interruptions.

Safety

Anyone who prunes or climbs trees that are in contact with the power lines is putting themselves into potentially highly dangerous situations.

Trees and the ground around them may become energized when branches come into contact with the power lines.

Momentary contact between the tree and energized power lines could be fatal to anyone who is in proximity of the tree.

Reliability

Trees are a significant cause of power outages. Outages from trees are caused from branches rubbing on power lines, branches falling on power lines and trees falling across power lines during storms.

By trimming power lines on a regular schedule to a minimum clearance, Lakefront Utilities will eliminate predictable safety hazards and reduce tree related outages.

Utilities’ Access to Private Property

The Electricity Act grants access for Lakefront Utilities to “enter and maintain any land for the purpose of cutting down or removing trees, branches or other obstructions”.

Easements are established at the municipal development planning stage that allows Lakefront Utilities and other utilities to access and maintain equipment on private properties. In addition, homeowners and private businesses are required to sign a “Terms of Agreement” with Lakefront Utilities that agrees to allow access for maintenance before service connections are made.

Legislation

The 1998, Electricity Act of Ontario requires that Lakefront Utilities maintain trees and brush to minimum clearances around its power lines. It also grants access for Lakefront Utilities to “enter and maintain any land for the purpose of cutting down or removing trees, branches or other  obstructions”.

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations stipulate what those clearances are and what the “Safe Limits of Approach” are for trained and untrained persons.

Homeowners and private businesses are required to sign a “Terms of Agreement” with Lakefront Utilities that agrees to allow access for maintenance before service connections are made.

Responsibilities and Qualifications

Minimum clearances are required between power lines and trees, branches and foliage. Homeowners are responsible to keep trees clear of the service line that runs into their homes.

Lakefront Utilities has the responsibility and the training to trim or remove trees inside of the power line corridor.

Electrical Safety Authority’s Trimming Trees Around Powerlines Guideline

Limitation

Lakefront Utilities will only remove trees outside of the power corridor when these trees could fall into the line and create a hazard.

Staff Qualifications

Lakefront Utilities uses highly skilled and specially trained staff and contractors to conduct any work inside the power corridor.

Trees are trimmed to International Society of Arboriculture and the ANSI A300 Standards. These are also the standards that the Town of Cobourg follows for tree work.

Clean Up

When a Lakefront Utilities crew or an approved contractor is conducting tree trimming or line clearing during regular maintenance, limbs, branches and other debris will normally be removed from the property.

In the event of a removal of a tree, larger pieces will be cut into manageable lengths and left for the homeowner’s use or disposal.

Storm Damage

When trees and branches are cleared from power lines due to storm damage, emergency crews will not clean up the debris but will leave it for disposal by the property owner.

Emergency Preparedness

If a severe weather emergency happens in our community, you may be without basic utilities for long periods of time. It may take emergency workers some time to get to you. After all, they are also battling the same problems that a storm brings.

You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your household for a minimum period of 72 hours.

By taking a few simple steps, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies that include winter storms, flooding, major power outages and other emergencies that may leave you without basic services or find you evacuated.

BEFORE A POWER OUTAGE

Thunderstorms, high winds and snowstorms can create power outage situations that may last longer than a few minutes. They could be widespread and even last for days. You should always be prepared ahead of time for the possibility that you will be without power for a longer period. Before a power outage strikes, consider the following

  1. Battery powered smoke alarms need to be regularly fitted with fresh batteries. People often heat their home with wood or other power supply means, which could increase the risk of fire, and permanently wired smoke alarms do not work in a power outage.
  2. Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it is hard-wired to the house’s electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.
  3. New handheld phones won’t work without power. Buy an inexpensive handset to plug directly into the telephone jack. You might consider a UPS to power or recharge communication devices (computer, cell phones, wireless phones) if access to the outside is important during an outage.
  4. If a back up generator is in your plans, it should have an ESA inspected transfer capability and fuel on hand to last through a longer outage. Store fuel responsibly and know what devices your generator can supply.
  5. In the winter, always keep a full tank of gas in the automobile. This will allow you to drive somewhere that has power when the roads are safe to travel. It will also reduce the risk of gas lines freezing in winter.
  6. Businesses should consult with an electrician or computer expert to determine the best strategy to deal with critical equipment and data.
  7. Protect sensitive electrical appliances such as TVs, computer, and DVD players with a surge-protecting powerbar. During an outage, turn all units off and only leave a light on so you know when the power returns.
  8. Knowledge of appropriate generator safety, food safety and electrical restart procedures are all important

DURING A POWER OUTAGE

If you see downed power lines, do not go near them. Call 911

First, check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours’ power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify Lakefront Utilities. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.

If your neighbours’ power is also out, notify Lakefront Utilities.

During storm events, if you see a tree or other object on a power line or sparking equipment on poles, notify Lakefront Utilities.

Call Us at 905-372-2193

  • Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment, and turn the thermostat(s) for the home heating system down to minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Also, power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
  • Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know that power has been restored.
  • Don’t open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can’t smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
  • Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep out of reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.
  • Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities. If these are not available, you may choose to monitor broadcast media using your car radio.
  • Listen to the Radio – local media are provided with the most current information about larger power outages. When a major outage is taking place, watch social media for updates.
Outdoor Electrical Safety and Ladder Safety

Make sure there are no power lines close by when putting in or taking out an antenna,. You should remain at least 10 ft. (plus the length of the antenna) away from the lines.

Ladders, scaffolds and other apparatus should be at least 10 feet away from all lines plus the electric service cable joined to the house or building.

Touching a downed wire could be fatal. If you come across a downed wire, stay clear and alert others to the danger and send someone to notify Lakefront Utilities at 905-372-2193.

If you hit a hydro pole in your car and dislodge any wires stay inside the car until a hydro crew can remove the wire. If you have to evacuate in case of fire, jump free with both feet simultaneously and without coming in contact with the car and ground at the same time. Use small steps to get away. Don’t go back to the car for any reason and tell others to stay away.

You should have either a three-prong plug or double insulation on Power tools. Use a suitable three-wire, grounded cord if you require an extension cord,. All tools and cords should be kept in good condition and don’t use power tools on wet grass or other damp surfaces.

Avoid planting trees under a powerline as trees can conduct electricity, especially if they’re wet. If you are planning to prune, trim or pick fruit from a tree, take care that branches and tools do not contact power lines. If you are not sure, do not do the work.

When launching or sailing your boat be on guard for electrical wires. If your mast or antenna happens to come in contact with a power line, it could be deadly.

Keeping Children Safe

Instruct children to play away from hydro wires and stay away from any area with signs marked “Keep Out” or “Danger”.

It is very treacherous to climb hydro poles, towers, and fences adjoining electrical equipment. Children could fall or touch a wire and be hurt or killed.

Tell children not to climb trees near power lines and they should not play on or near pad-mounted transformers (short green metal cabinets on cement slabs that convert high voltage electricity to lower voltages for use in homes and businesses)

Don’t let children fly kites near power lines. As a precaution, make sure there is nothing metallic on the kite and check that the kite string has no wire or metal in it.

The following are some beneficial safety sites you can visit:

Electrical Safety Authority

Electrical & Utilities Safety Association of Ontario

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Industrial Accident Prevention Association

Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services