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The new school year has just begun. As a parent, whether you’re sending your child off to the bus stop or off to college, it can be difficult sending them into a world without you. Give yourself some peace of mind by making sure they’re prepared for whatever comes their way this year.

Since school is all about learning new things, we’re sharing some lessons on electric safety for every student in your life, from home rooms to dorm rooms.

Elementary school / middle school students

Prepare your student by educating them about electricity, the dangers and how to react safely. Teach children:

  • Never go near power lines and other electrical equipment. It’s important for children to know how to recognize a downed wire, transmission towers, utility poles and transformers (the big gray or green boxes commonly found in front or backyards), so they don’t get hurt.playground with pink slide covered by yellow CAUTION tape
  • How to recognize the words “DANGER” and “CAUTION” on bright-colored tape, so they know where electrical work is being done and where to stay away.
  • Never stick objects like pens, pencils or their fingers in electrical outlets.
  • Always make sure their hands are dry before plugging anything in; especially in art or science class where sinks are around.
  • Don’t yank on a cord when unplugging it and instead grab the base and pull from there. For small children, let them know to get an adult to help with plugging and unplugging anything.
  • Never climb trees near power lines. If you have overhead power lines in your area, look up before your child and/or their friends climb up your tree. Teach children to also always look up and walk around a tree before playing on or near it.
  • Don’t play outside during thunderstorms. The classic saying, “when thunder roars, go indoors” is always a good one for helping children understand when to seek shelter during a storm. Make sure they understand it’s also important to be extra careful going outside after a storm. Downed power lines may be hidden by debris and if touched, can be fatal. Children should always stay at least a school bus away from power lines and anything they’re touching. It’s best to keep children inside until you know the downed power lines have been cleared in your area. Watch our video on storm safety with you children for more kid-friendly storm safety tips.

Our electric safety activity book is a great activity to do with your children and a fun way to teach them about electricity, everything it enables us to do and the dangers to look out for.

High school students

High school can be scary enough without adding electrical scares. As your teen gets ready for SATs and awkward school dances, talk to them about how to respond to electrical dangers if they occur. Your high school student should always remember to:

  • Obey all traffic laws and safety precautions where electric work is being done.
  • Stay at least 20 feet away from downed power lines. If a downed power line falls on their car, they should remain in the car, call 9-1-1 and report it to DTE immediately.
  • Never use a metal utensil to get food out of a toaster or toaster oven. They should always unplug the device and wait for the food to cool down before trying to get it out.
  • Keep blow dryers and other styling tools away from the sink. If one falls in, they should unplug it, dry it off and then plug it back in to continue styling.

College students

Whether your student is starting their Freshman year in a dorm, getting their own apartment or setting up a study room at home, share these safety tips with them as they settle in.

  • Don’t overload electrical outlets. Dorms or campus housing may not be equipped to handle today’s use of electrical appliances and devices.
  • Keep all electrical appliances and cords away from bedding, curtains or other flammable materials.
  • Extension cords are only for temporary use and can become overloaded. Consider using a power strip instead that shuts off power automatically when there’s too much electrical current.
  • Get into the habit of unplugging devices that aren’t in use.
  • Replace frayed or damaged extension cords with new ones.
  • Keep extension cords out from under carpet, rugs or furniture as it could damage the cord and present  a fire hazard.
  • Never leave cooking appliances unattended.
  • Plug portable heaters and air conditioners directly into an outlet. If an extension cord is needed, use one that’s rated for this purpose to ensure the cord can handle it.
  • Never run a camp stove indoors as it can give off deadly CO2 emissions.
  • Make sure dorm rooms have working smoke detectors. Test them monthly and replace the batteries every year.

If your student is living off campus, see these extra safety tips from the Electrical Safety Authority.

  • Have the landlord check the following:
    • Exposed electrical wiring
    • Loose or damaged plugs and switches, or outlets and switches with missing cover plates
    • Dim, flickering or surging lights
    • Fuses that blow, circuit breakers that frequently trip or outlets that don’t work when fuses are replaced, or breakers are reset
    • Fuses and switches that are warm or hot to the touch
  • Make sure kitchen and bathrooms have GFCI protected outlets

instructions on how to test safety outlets

Learn how to test and reset safety outlets. These prevent against electric shock and burns. Plug in a test item (i.e., a nightlight), press the “test” button and the light should turn off, then press the “reset” button and the light should turn back on. If the light doesn’t turn on, have a qualified electrician inspect the outlet.

Keep these tips in mind and have a safe, successful school year. For more electric safety tips, see this brochure on back-to-school safety from the Electrical Safety Foundation International or visit our electric safety page.