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Date: May 28, 2003
Contact: Pamela A. Bonrud
Phone Number: 605-773-3201
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission

South Dakota Energy Safety Awareness Week

PIERRE: -- The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is teaming with the state rural electric cooperatives, investor owned utilities and municipal utilities to promote South Dakota Energy Safety Awareness Week, June 2-8.

This event is intended to bring attention to the dangers of power lines and other energy sources to citizens of South Dakota. With the beginning of another spring and summer outdoor season, it is important to remind parents, construction workers, residents and do-it-yourselfers of the dangers of working around power lines and electricity.

"Our goal is to save lives," said PUC Chairman Bob Sahr. "An estimated 27 South Dakotans will die during an average lifetime from contact with electric transmission lines and 65 will die from other electricity contacts."

"South Dakota storms can create dangerous conditions. You need to avoid the dangers of electricity whether it is from lightening or fallen power lines. The extra precaution you may take may be the difference between life and death for you and your family," remarked Vice Chair Gary Hanson.

Commissioner Jim Burg reminds folks to be cautious when contemplating home repair or landscaping projects. "Watch for underground power lines when installing a new fence in your yard or planting or trimming a tree. Also turn off the electrical service to your home when repairing your roof or making exterior improvements."

The public needs to remember two important phrases when working around electricity "Dig Safely" and "Look Up and Live."

"Dig Safely" means taking care to avoid underground lines. You must call South Dakota OneCall two working days before starting an excavation project. You can reach South Dakota OneCall by calling 1-800-781-7474. "Look Up and Live" refers to knowing the dangers of overhead power lines and the dangers in coming in contact with them.

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

Power tools: Select tools designed for outdoor use.

They should be double insulated or have three-way grounded plugs. Keep power saw, drill, and trimmer cords where they can't be cut.

Overhead Lines: Keep your distance! Look Up and Live.

When carrying and using ladders and other long tools, keep them at least 10 feet away from all overhead lines.

Kites and Balloons: Fly them away from power lines.

Kites and balloons that contact power lines can cause shock or fire, so keep them away from overhead lines. Keep conductive metallic balloons indoors.

Tree Safety: Work and Play Safely around trees.

Contact your electric utility before trimming trees near overhead power lines. Don't let kid climb trees near power lines.

Underground Lines: Call before you dig.

If you hit an underground power line you could be fatally injured. Before digging or moving earth in any way, call South Dakota One Call at 1-800-781-7474.

Power Pole Contact: Wait for rescuers.

If you see a downed power line, call or have someone contact your electric utility. If you are in a vehicle and the power line or pole is in contact with your vehicle and you must leave due to hazards, jump clear of fallen lines. Don't touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Land with feet together and shuffle away.

Lightning: Caught in a lightning storm?

Avoid trees and bodies of water. Get into an enclosed vehicle or house. Caught in the open? Squat with feet together, tuck head and cover ears. Don't touch metal fencing after a storm. During storms, stay out of lakes, ponds, pools and spas. If you are on a golf course, get in your cart.

Fallen Power Lines: Keep Away!!

If you see a fallen line, stay far away. The line can be dangerous, even if it's not sparking. Notify the local electric utility and 9-1-1 immediately.