Home safety tips
While SMUD commits to be safe, always, we encourage customers to take safety precautions in their own homes, as well.
- Use electrical cords wisely. Repair or replace cords that are frayed or cracked. Always remove a cord from the outlet by pulling on the plug rather than the cord itself.
- Cords should never be nailed or stapled to a wall, baseboard or any other object. Cords should not have any furniture resting on them or be placed under a carpet or rug. Do not leave a cord where it can be stepped or tripped on.
- Protect yourself from electrical shock by using Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters in kitchen and bathroom outlets where water and electricity may come into contact.
- Install light bulbs that are the correct wattage for the size of the fixtures.
- Repair or replace an appliance that repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit, or if it has caused an electric shock.
- Protect children and pets by covering unused wall outlets with plastic safety caps.
- Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn't fit. Doing so could lead to fire or shock. Plugs should fit securely, and outlets should not be overloaded.
- Never remove the third prong of a three-pronged plug. The third prong is designed to safely ground electricity.
- Know how to safely reset your circuit breaker or replace a blown fuse.
- Keep children and pets a safe distance away when you operate a mower, chain saw or other power equipment.
- Always turn off and unplug the tool or appliance you are using before making adjustments or repairs.
- Don't use any electrical tool or appliance in the rain, on wet surfaces, or while standing in water.
- Use only weather-resistant heavy gauge extension cords marked "For Outdoor Use."
- If a cord overheats, turn off the appliance or tool.
- Keep cords out of your path or work area.
- Install shock-protecting Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) on outdoor outlets.
- Never leave electrical equipment or yard tools unattended.
- If an electrical tool falls into water, always unplug it before reaching into the water to retrieve it.
- Planning to trim trees? Avoid contacting power lines, whether directly or with another object. If a tree limb is in contact with a power line do not trim it. Call our tree trimming employees at 1-866-473-9582. Learn more about how SMUD trims trees.
Call before you dig
Before digging in your yard, take precautions against coming into contact with buried power lines. Learn the exact location of underground power lines that cross your property. Call 811 at least two working days before you dig.
Because today's homes are fairly airtight and do not provide much ventilation, it is never safe to use an open fire or to burn charcoal inside your home.
Burning wood or charcoal emits carbon monoxide. Inside your home, this invisible and odorless gas can kill quickly.
- Never use a barbecue grill in an enclosed area.
- Never heat a room with a stove, oven, kerosene heater, dryer or other non-ventilated heaters.
- Never burn anything in your fireplace that is not recommended by the manufacturer such as treated or painted wood.
- Never use gasoline or starter fluid to ignite a fire in the fireplace.
The information on this page is available in our Safe Home Heating brochure in these languages:
Or, to get a copy of the Safe Home Heating brochure in the mail, please call 1-888-742-7683.
If not properly installed, generators can send electricity back through dead power lines and electrocute you or an electric utility worker.
When using a generator, you need to make certain that no electricity is flowing back into SMUD lines. The law says you are responsible for any injuries or damage to your property, your neighbor's property or SMUD's property from an improperly installed or improperly operated generator.
Please review our safety tips to learn how to keep everyone safe.
- Read all operating instructions and manufacturer warnings before using the equipment. If the information is unclear, contact the manufacturer or dealer.
- Connect only those appliances needed during an outage directly into the generator.
- SMUD does not recommend installing a generator directly into a home or any building wiring. However, if you must connect a generator directly into a wall outlet, turn off the power to your home or business by turning off the main disconnect switch (breaker) to the "off" position. This keeps energy from feeding back into the SMUD lines.
- If using a permanent standby generator for business or personal purposes, an approved transfer switch is required to keep your generator from back feeding into SMUD's system. The generator installation and operation must meet our interconnection requirements.
- Your city or county building department must inspect any generator that is permanently installed.
- Never use gas-powered generators indoors or in an enclosed area.
- Never operate a generator while standing in water.
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are found wherever you have electric power. Questions have been raised as to the possible health effects of these low-frequency (60-hertz) fields.
Can EMF harm your health?
Electromagnetic fields are present wherever electricity flows—around appliances and power lines, and in offices, schools and homes. Many researchers believe that if there is a risk of adverse health effects from normal residential exposures to EMF, it is probably just at the limit of detection for human health studies. Nonetheless, any possible risk warrants further investigation. Varying results from epidemiological studies that looked at estimated EMF exposures and childhood leukemia are consistent with a weak link. Laboratory studies, including those examining a possible mechanism for health effects (mechanistic studies), offer little or no evidence to support this weak link.
Results from many research studies have been evaluated by international, national and California EMF research programs to determine whether EMF poses any health risk. Given the uncertainty of the issue, the medical and scientific communities have been unable to conclude that normal residential exposures to EMF cause adverse health effects. Nor have they established any standard or level of residential exposure that is known to be either safe or harmful. These conclusions remain unchanged by recent studies.
What you can do
SMUD and other California public utilities have been pursuing no-cost and low-cost measures to reduce EMF levels from new utility transmission lines and substation projects. You, too, may want to take no-cost and low-cost measures to reduce your EMF exposure at home and at work.
Human studies have not produced a consensus about any health benefits from changing the way people use electric appliances. But if you feel that reducing your EMF exposure would be beneficial, you can increase your distance from electric appliances and/or limit the amount of time you use appliances at home or at work.
For example, you can place phone answering machines and electric clocks away from the head of your bed. Increasing your distance from these and other appliances like TVs, computer monitors and microwave ovens can lower your EMF exposure. You can also reduce your EMF exposure by limiting the time you spend using personal appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, heating pads and electric blankets. You may also want to limit the time you spend using electric cooking appliances. You can identify the sources of EMF in your work environment, and spend break time in lower-field areas.
It is not known whether such actions will have any impact on your health.
For more information, download our EMF brochure.
Call SMUD for a free information package or to borrow a magnetic field meter for free at 1-916-732-6009
Call 811 before you dig
Most utility services these days are underground. And you wouldn't want to find out by accident where they are located. The following steps cost you nothing, and they afford you peace of mind.
Pipeline safety 1-2-3
1. At least two (2) business days prior to digging, contact Underground Service Alert (USA).
2. Once you make that call, any utilities that have underground facilities near your dig site will come out and mark their locations. Keep those marks visible throughout your project. If they become obscured, call 811 again for a remarking.
3. Dig carefully. When you get within two (2) feet of a marked pipeline location, put away the machinery and finish the work by hand. If you inadvertently hit, scrape or damage a pipeline or related equipment, call 811. If you hear hissing or smell gas, get away, keep others away, and call 911. Then call SMUD's Gas Control Center at 1-800-877-7683.
Because we have such a large service area, we appreciate that our customers keep watch in the community. Outlined below are the areas our Security Operations Team needs your help with most.
If overhead power lines are downed for any reason, stay clear. Do not touch the wires. Learn more safety information around power lines, substations and transformers.
If the downed power lines have fallen on a motor vehicle, avoid contact with the vehicle – it’s probably been electrified and could cause a deadly shock if you touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Stay clear until you’re sure the power is shut off.
If you are the victim of power theft, you may end up paying for stolen power.
What to do
- Keep a safe distance.
- Get a description of the individual(s) involved including: height, weight, clothing, etc.
- Get a vehicle description with a license plate number.
- Note the direction of travel.
What not to do
- Do not try to detain or apprehend anybody.
- Do not put yourself in harm’s way – property can be replaced, people cannot.
- Do not try to repair damage.
- Do not tamper with any evidence.
From time to time, criminals try to trick utility customers into allowing them inside their home or business, giving away personal information or paying a fake bill. Be alert and know how to identify frauds and scams.
You can also call to report a scam:
If you see any of these unsafe conditions near SMUD facilities, call our Facilities Department at 1-916-732-5300.
Overgrown weeds and brush are not only unsightly, they provide a hiding place for people to gather, consume alcohol and narcotics and leave trash behind. This leads to other crime, such as burglaries of homes, businesses and cars, as well as increasing the potential for fire.
Sometimes people use SMUD facilities, such as remote roadways, to illegally dump their trash. This includes furniture, tires and more. Not only is this unsafe for our customers and employees, but it negatively impacts the neighborhood around the property.
Occasionally, our facilities are used as a canvas for graffiti artists, including gang members. This graffiti has been the catalyst for turf wars between rival gangs, which in turn further impacts your community safety.