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Safety Information and Resources

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Top 10 list of electrical safety tips:

  1. Call Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative immediately if you see an electrical hazard.  Our phones are answered 24 hours a day.  Call us at 800-225-4532.
  2. Have a family plan outlining what to do in case of electrical emergency.  For example, call 911 for injuries or electrical fires, and stay away from downed power lines.
  3. Read and follow all safety instructions that come with appliances you purchase and use.
  4. Follow safety procedures if your equipment or vehicle comes in contact with a power line, including: 1) try to drive out from under it if you can or 2) stay in place and have someone call for help immediately or 3) if you must leave the vehicle: jump clear without making contact with the ground and vehicle at the same time.
  5. Install and repair electrical outlets and appliances using precautions and safety measures, including shutting off power (and testing to be sure power is off), safety equipment and tools, and/or hiring a licensed electrician to do the job.
  6. Plant trees at least 30 feet away from power lines so the tree won't eventually grow into the lines.
  7. Do not attempt to remove items (fallen tree branches, kites, etc.) from power lines.
  8. Never attempt to move or raise electric lines; instead call Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative at 800-225-4532 for assistance.
  9. Be aware of power line locations when moving farm equipment and know what to do if you come in contact with lines.
  10. Keep all objects (ladders, farm equipment) at least 10 feet away from power lines.

Visit for more electrical safety tips.

Additional Safety Information

Generator Safety

Generators may offer some conveniences during periods of long-term power outages, but they can also be dangerous and even deadly if they are not used or installed correctly. There are two basic types of generators - permanent, standby generators and portable generators. Both types of generators can pose a serious safety hazard that users should beware of if they are not used and installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Permanent, Standby Generator Safety

A licensed professional should install a permanent, standby electric generator. Properly connecting a standby generator into your Cooperative's system is a critical step for safe and effective use.

Have a qualified electrician install a transfer switch. The transfer switch breaks the path of electricity between your Cooperative's power lines and your main electrical panel. This is the best way to protect you, your neighbors and your Cooperative's linemen from 'back feed.' Back feed occurs when an improperly connected generator begins feeding electricity "back" through the power lines. It is your responsibility to take necessary steps to prevent the injury of anyone near lines, especially nearby line crews working to restore power.

According to your Cooperative's Tariff 19.4, Standby Generators, "No other source of supply of electricity shall be introduced or used by any member-owners in conjunction with electric service supplied by the Cooperative without prior approval of the Cooperative. If standby facilities are to be employed, a single-change-over switch or relay of adequate capacity shall be provided and so connected that the Cooperative's lines cannot be energized by standby power under any conditions."

Portable Generator Safety

Some homeowners choose smaller, portable generators that can be purchased at a local hardware store to power essential electrical equipment during outages.

Your Cooperative offers these tips for the safe operation and use of portable generators:

  • Never plug a portable electric generator into a wall outlet or connect directly to a home's wiring. This can energize utility power lines and injure you or others working nearby.
  • Read and follow all manufacturer operating instructions to properly ground the generator.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation. Generators emit carbon monoxide. It is against fire code to operate a generator in your home, garage or other enclosed building.
  • Turn off the generator and allow cooling before refueling.
  • Protect your appliances. Turn off or disconnect all appliances and lights before you.
  • Generators pose electrical risks especially when operated in wet conditions.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times.
  • Use proper extension cords. Use only safety-tested, shop-type electrical cords designed and rated for heavier, outdoor use to connect appliances.
  • Shut down the generator properly. Before shutting down a generator, turn off and unplug all appliances and equipment being powered by the generator.

Please contact either an electrician or your Cooperative's local energy advisor to determine the best equipment for your situation or needs. A professional electrician will know the existing safety codes and your Cooperative's safety requirements. If installed and operated correctly, the use of a standby or portable electric generators poses little danger, but improper installation or use could be deadly.

Space Heaters

"Portable heaters can help take the chill from areas of your home, but are very dangerous if used improperly," says Molly Hall, director of Safe Electricity.  "Stay warm and safe and give space heaters space - at least 3 feet from anything that can burn, including little fingers!"

Some cities have banned the use of many types of portable space heaters.  Before purchasing or using any type of space heater, check with your local fire department to find out if it is legal in your community.  Safe Electricity offers the following precautions when using electric space heaters.

  • Purchase only space heaters that have been safety tested and rated.  Make sure the unit is equipped with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.  Read and follow all of the manufacturer's instructions for operation and care.
  • Before use, check to make sure the heater is in good condition and have all problems professionally repaired.
  • Place heater out of high-traffic areas and on a level, hard, non-flammable floor surface, not on carpets, furniture or countertops.
  • Remember to keep space heaters at least three feet from all flammable items such as draperies, blankets and sofas.
  • Do not overload circuits.  Do not use extension cords or multiple plugs with a space heater and make sure the unit is not plugged into same circuit as other electric appliances.
  • Never leave space heaters unattended.  Turn off your space heater and unplug it before leaving the room or going to bed.

Stray Voltage

The Iowa Stray Voltage Guide outlines the steps farmers, electricians, utilities and their advisors can take to discover and resolve stray voltage concerns on livestock farms.

Tree Trimming Information

Trees and overhead power lines don't mix.  Good tree trimming practices help provide you, the member-owner, with a more safe and reliable (especially during ice storms) electric service as well as saving your Cooperative money through reducing line loss by not purchasing electricity that is not sold at retail. 

If you have trees that are close to the electrical lines, please call Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative at 800-225-4532 and we will send you a Tree Clearing Notification Form or download the form and return to:

Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
702 South 1st Street
Estherville, IA 51334

State Electrical Inspection Program

The primary goal of Iowa Code 103 is to improve public safety by ensuring that buildings in which people live and work, have electrical systems which meet or exceed the National Electrical Code (NEC).  Please be aware extra time will need to be given so scheduling, inspections, and releases may be dealt with in a timely manner.  According to Iowa Statute 103, inspectors are allowed three business days following the receipt of the inspection request to perform inspection.  This excludes weekends and holidays.

Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative follows section 103.28(1) of the Iowa Code.  This states that "no electrical installation subject to inspection under this chapter shall be newly connected or reconnected for use until the electrical inspector has filed with Iowa Lakes Electrical Cooperative a certificate stating that the electrical inspector has approved such energization".

For further information, visit Iowa Department of Public Safety's website.