It's autumn in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin, and many area folks take this time to prepare their homes and yards for winter.
That's a good idea. It's always best to plan ahead and not to wait until the last minute.
However, there are potentially dangerous situations associated with fall yard clean-up activities, warn Upper Peninsula Power Co. officials.
To help prevent accidents Upper Peninsula Power Co. officials and safety experts offer the following tips:
Outside the Home
- Ladders and power lines do not mix. Whether painting, cleaning gutters, adding storm windows or getting on a roof, experts advise to place ladders at least 10 feet away from any power line. Placing a ladder against a round tree trunk or power pole can also lead to unstable climbing.
- Tree trimming should be left to the professionals, particularly when done near power lines. UPPCO has an established, regular scheduled tree-trimming program for larger power lines. The Iron River-Stambaugh area was scheduled to be trimmed this year, with trimming scheduled for an area southwest Iron River in 2014. Caspian and Gaastra areas are scheduled 2016.
- If digging in your yard, contact Miss Dig in Michigan. The phone number hotline is 811. Requests can also be made on line at Miss Dig www.missdig.net/. There are some locations in the U.P. where the 8-1-1 will not work so customers are advised to use the 800-482-7171 number to call instead. Local visits to properties are usually made within three business days after they are received. Experts advise not to plant tall growing trees below overhead power lines.
- Homeowners with ground mounted transformers on their property can landscape around the transformer but are advised to not plant on the padlocked side of the unit. Utility crews may need to get access inside the unit for possible repairs. Before planting anything or digging near a ground mounted transformer, it's important to contact Miss Dig.
- Power tools, like chainsaws, leaf blowers, brush trimmers and power spray washers can cause accidents when used improperly. Electric power tools require an extension cord which should be in good condition and placed where no one trips over it. Experts advise not to use those electric power tools in damp or rainy conditions and don't remove safety guards on tools.
Inside the Home
Most people spend more time inside the home using heat sources as the outside temperature starts to drop.
- Experts advise to get heating systems checked and tuned up before the heating season arrives.
- Keep a supply of furnace filters on hand and change out every month.
- Check and clean chimneys and all vents from leaves, debris or small animal nests.
- Install UL-safety approved smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in proper locations inside the home. There should be a properly working smoke detector on each floor of the house and at least one CO detector in the bedroom area of the house. Experts remind residents to check and/or replace the batteries in these devices and reminds residents to test the devices on a regular basis.
- If space heaters are used, operate them according to the manufacturer's suggested use and ventilation recommendations.
- Keep utility emergency phone numbers readily available in case they are needed. The UPPCO 24-hour Electric Emergency Service phone number is 1-800-562-7809. The We Energies 24-hour Customer Service number is 1-800-562-7680.