Health & Safety
Greater Sudbury Hydro promotes the safe use of electricity in a variety of ways. Public service announcements inform the public about possible hazards and education programs in schools teach children how to stay safe. The Greater Sudbury Hydro website is home to a wealth of safety knowledge to help our customers and the public use electricity safely.
Many of our workers carry out their duties in a hazardous environment and we are continually reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure that every one of our employees goes home safely at the end of each day. Employees at all levels and in all areas of the company have made a commitment to achieving an injury-free workplace.
Call Before You Dig
Installing a fence? Paving your driveway? Digging anywhere on your property? Then you will need a locate.
A locate will show where any underground hydro lines may be so injury to persons or damage to equipment may be avoided. Greater Sudbury Hydro provides free underground cable locates during normal business hours.
To request a locate of underground cables on your property contact Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255.
Help your kids stay safe. Take a few minutes to go over these electrical safety "do's and don'ts" with your kids; it could help prevent serious injuries or even save lives.
- Keep away from outdoor areas marked with signs that say "Danger" or "Danger High Voltage."
- Look up for hydro wires running through or beside trees before you climb.
- Stay clear of overhead power lines and wires.
- Respect utility electrical equipment.
- Fly kites, balloons and model airplanes in wide-open spaces, away from power lines.
- Always try to get inside a building or a car during a lightning storm.
- When disconnecting appliances from electrical outlets, use the plug when you pull it out.
- Remind your parents to replace electrical cords that have cut, broken or cracked insulation.
- Keep electrical cords away from sources of heat.
- Keep electrical cords and appliances away from water. Plug cords into GFCI protected outlets when you're working near a sink or other water source.
- When you're changing a light bulb, be sure to turn off the switch or circuit.
- Put safety caps on any unused electrical outlets, especially if there are young children in the house.
- If there's an electrical fire, call the fire department. Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher or baking soda to douse an electrical fire. If it's safe to do so, unplug the appliance first.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number if you see a person who is receiving an electrical shock and is seized on an appliance or a wire.
- Don't play near electrical stations, equipment, wires, hydro towers or utility poles.
- Don't climb or play in trees where there are overhead wires nearby.
- Don't touch an overhead wire with a pole, stick or other object. Electricity could travel down that object and cause a shock that could kill you.
- Don't throw anything at wires or electrical equipment, and don't fasten things to utility poles. Damaged equipment can be very dangerous.
- Don't fly kites or other toys near overhead power lines or substations. A string or line that contacts electrical equipment or a power line can cause a shock that could kill you.
- Don't stay outside when there's lightning. Avoid wide open spaces and tall trees. If you're swimming, get out of the water.
- Don't pull on the cord when you unplug an electrical appliance. Use the plug.
- Don't use appliances that have damaged electrical cords - there's a risk of shock.
- Don't run cords under carpets.
- Don't mix water and electricity. If an electrical cord or appliance is faulty, water will conduct the electricity and increase the risk of shock.
- Don't work on light fixtures or appliances without unplugging them or switching off the power. Never put your finger in a light bulb socket.
- Don't poke anything into an electrical outlet.
- Don't use water to put out an electrical fire.
- Don't touch someone that is being shocked until the electricity has been turned off.
Opening and Closing Your Cottage
There are a few areas you should check off every time you open and close your seasonal home. In general, it's important to look at security, your electrical system, and your water system.
Closing your seasonal home
Security in the off-season can sometimes be a problem. There are a number of steps you can take to help protect your seasonal home and its contents:
- If you have any neighbours who stay there year-round, ask them to watch your home. Perhaps they could park a car in the driveway to help make the home look occupied
- If you leave the electricity on, you can use portable timers to turn lights on and off at specific times
- To enhance security around the house, install outdoor motion sensors that flood the selected area with light whenever movement is detected
- You can also choose to have outdoor lights automatically go on at night and off at dawn by installing photoelectric cells
- Consider a security system that is monitored by a reputable local security firm. A basic system offers protection against burglaries. More sophisticated systems include smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If you have such a system, inform your security company when you are leaving for the off-season and ensure they have your contact information
- Tightly close your fireplace damper to prevent animals from getting in through the chimney
Some people choose to shut off electricity to their home in the off-season by throwing the main switch at the fuse box. If you do this, be sure to turn off all major appliances, your water heater, and electrical room heaters before you turn off the main switch. This will ensure a smoother and safer start-up when you re-open your home.
If you leave your electricity on to operate security systems or lighting, you should:
- Turn off the power supply to your major appliances at your main panel
- Turn off the power supply to any space heaters. Otherwise they may turn on during cold weather
Turn off the power to your hot water tank and drain it. Here are the steps to follow:
- Remove fuses or shut off main breaker to disconnect power to your water heater
- Open hot water tap at the sink. Tap must be at a higher level than the tank
- Attach a hose to the tank's drain valve located at the bottom of the tank and direct hose towards basement drain or outdoors. Opening to drain or outdoors must be lower than drain valve to siphon out the water
- Open drain valve and drain tank completely. Once tank is completely drained, remove hose and close drain valve
- If you're closing the house for the winter, shut off the water to the house and drain the cold water from all the taps. This will prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting
Opening your seasonal home
- Call your security company to let them know that you are back
- Check your home for any signs of damage or vandalism
- Visually inspect your hydro meter and power lines for damage. If a power line is down or damaged, stay clear and call Greater Sudbury Hydro power outage and emergency number immediately at 1-705-675-7536
- Inspect visible wiring to outdoor lighting fixtures, water pumps and other equipment. If wires are damaged, remove the fuse to that circuit or turn off the circuit breaker, and call a qualified electrician
- Check all household appliance cords. If damaged, unplug the appliance and do not use it until the cord is replaced
- If your electrical panel uses fuses, make sure they are screwed in tightly and that you have spares. Don't use fuses higher than 15 amps in normal receptacle and lighting circuits
- Make sure drain valve at bottom of water tank is closed
- Open a hot water tap at a sink. The tap must be at a higher level than the tank
- Open cold water shut-off to tank
- Leave hot water tap on until water comes out of tap. Tank is now full
- Turn on power to water heater at fuse box or electrical panel.
- Check tank and drain valve for leaks
Day to Day Safety
Follow these electrical safety tips to protect your home, family and business:
Wiring, fuses and breakers
- If your electrical panel uses fuses, always replace a fuse with the right amperage fuse. Never substitute a higher amp fuse where a smaller one is called for, since this poses a fire hazard
- Never change fuses in the dark or while standing on a wet floor
- If you blow a fuse or throw a breaker by overloading a circuit, make sure that any appliances on that circuit are turned off or unplugged before you replace the fuse or reset the breaker
- When your home or cottage was built, the electrical installation was inspected to ensure that it met the Electrical Safety Code at the time. Keep your wiring safe. If you add to it, be sure to have an electrical inspection
- Check for rust on your fuse box caused by moisture. It can corrode connections, which can lead to overheating and fire
- Never replace a burnt out fuse with a coin, even as a temporary measure. Doing so could start a fire
- Use 'P' fuses for general lighting circuits and circuits to appliances like water heaters, baseboard or portable heaters and stoves
- 'D' fuses have a built-in delay feature to handle power surges, which occur when heavy appliances are turned on. They should be used for freezers, air conditioners, clothes dryers and electric furnaces
- It's important to use cords properly and keep them well maintained. Electrical cords are insulated to protect you from the electricity running through the wires inside. When an appliance or tool is on, these wires are "live" and could cause shock upon contact
- Never use a tool or appliance with a frayed cord or where the insulation is nicked and wires are exposed
- Keep cords clean to prevent insulation from deteriorating
- Don't wind cords tightly around an object; the stress could cause the small wires inside to snap or break
- Never run cords under rugs. It conceals damage and can cause the cord to overheat and become a fire hazard
- Never break off the third prong of a plug. The third prong (the round one) is a grounding wire put there for your protection; it provides a ground path that helps prevent or minimize shocks. Rather than breaking it off to fit an older outlet, replace a two-prong outlet with a three-prong one and make sure the third prong is properly grounded
- Never nail cords to walls or floors. It punctures the insulation and can short out the wires
- Don't run cords behind radiators. Heat damage to the insulation can increase the risk of shock
- Avoid "octopus outlets"! Clusters of wires and plugs may mean your electrical system can't cope with your energy needs. It may be time to rewire and add circuits
Electricity and water don't mix!
- Be careful in the bathroom and near sinks; radios, hairdryers and other electrical appliances are hazardous if you use them near water. If your hands are wet or if you're standing on a damp floor, you could get a serious electrical shock
- Any plugs that are near sources of water should be GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters)
Work safely with your electrical appliances
- Not all appliances on the market are safe. Electrical equipment that is poorly designed or manufactured can pose a serious shock or fire hazard. Look for a label such as Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC). They indicate that the product has been tested and meets the requirements of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code
- Keep appliances in good working order. Check cords for damage, fraying or nicks. Never use a tool or appliance with a frayed cord or where the insulation is nicked and wires are exposed
- Never handle electrical appliances or equipment with wet hands or while standing on wet ground or in water
- Check plugs for bent or damaged prongs. Don't break off the grounding prong on a 3-prong plug
- Watch out for sparks - they're a signal of potential danger. If you see any sparks, turn off and unplug your appliance immediately
- Keep appliances clean. Clean the removable lint filter on your clothes dryer after each load. Dirt, dust or lint can make appliances unsafe to use; lint and dust are flammable
- Always disconnect an appliance before cleaning it
- If you bring used or second-hand appliances to your cottage, make sure they are still electrically safe
Energy Safety on the Farm
Using energy safely in your barns and other buildings helps avoid potential injuries. Safety is always important, and proper maintenance of power lines and equipment will help you avoid injuries and possible interruptions of service.
Electrical facts you need to know to farm safely near power lines:
- Most overhead power lines have no protective insulation. Any physical or equipment contact with them will be dangerous
- Non-metallic materials such as lumber, tires, ropes, straw and hay, may conduct electricity depending on dampness and surface dirt.
- Electricity always seeks the easiest and shortest path to ground
- The flow of electricity into the ground around equipment or around a person in accidental contact with a power line, or surrounding a fallen power line itself, is dangerous to bystanders. The electricity could flow through the ground and electrocute those who come close
Check vegetation along your power lines
Help prevent unnecessary power outages and hazards around your property: have qualified contractors trim or remove vegetation and tree limbs that could interfere with your power lines.
If you own your own primary line, please remember that you are responsible for maintenance and vegetation control. You are also responsible for controlling vegetation along any "secondary" lines that run between the transformer and your premises or equipment.
How to work safely near power lines
Careful preparation and proper equipment are a must when working near power lines. The safest route is to hire an experienced professional, especially for tasks such as trimming trees near power lines.
Ontario construction regulations require workers to stay at least 3 metres away from a live power line. Play it safe by expanding that margin whenever you're working with equipment that can fall or collapse, such as booms, cranes, ladders and scaffolds. Remember: better safe than sorry.
Look up, look down, look all around
Never assume an area—above or below you—is free of power cables. If you are raising a ladder or any other type of object, look up first to ensure there are no overhead cables. Find out about underground cables before you dig. It's the quick and simple way to avoid the possible consequences of contact with an electrical cable—electrocution, serious injury or power interruption. For assistance in locating underground cables, contact Ontario One at 1-800-400-2255.
Don't risk life and limb near fallen power lines
Spring or winter storms can mean fallen power lines or damaged trees. Remember: approaching a downed line or attempting to clear storm damaged trees that are in contact, or close to, power lines could cause serious injury or death. Stay back at least 10 metres. Call Greater Sudbury Hydro at 705-675-7536. We'll assess the situation and turn the power off, if necessary.
Inspected wiring is safe wiring
Does the wiring in your barns and outbuildings meet the Electrical Safety Code? There is only one way to get the answer—have your system checked by an Inspector from the Electrical Safety Authority. Inspections are necessary when wiring is installed in a new or existing building. If your wiring is old, it is a good idea to have it checked—it's a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your electrical system is safe and sound.
Insist on an inspection if:
- You've had any wiring done for a renovation
- You've added a garage or other type of outbuilding
- You've installed a new furnace or environmental control system
- You've put in new appliances or equipment that requires electrical connections
- You've had or are having your electrical service upgraded
Remember, having an electrical inspection is for your safety and peace of mind—and it's required by law.
For Your Safety, Insist on an Electrical Inspection
Electrical inspections are designed to help protect the people in your home or building from electrical hazards.
Today, inspections are handled by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). An Inspector from the ESA will check any electrical work to make sure it meets the requirements defined in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, which sets provincial standards for safe electrical installations and electrical products.
Electrical inspections are the law
Electrical inspections are required in order to comply with requirements of the Electricity Act 1998 and the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (Ontario Regulation 10/02). It's the law. All electrical installations, renovations and alterations are required to have an electrical inspection. This includes:
- Installation of outlets, switches, lighting fixtures, baseboard heaters, smoke detectors (excluding battery operated types), exhaust fans, etc.
- Installation of new equipment such as heat pumps, water heaters, air conditioning, swimming pools, whirlpools, saunas, etc.
- Electrical service upgrades or changes
- New homes, additions or renovations
Whether you hire an electrical contractor or do the work yourself, all electrical installations or changes must be inspected to ensure they comply with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. This applies to private homes, offices, industrial buildings and income properties.
To contact an Electrical Safety Authority representative for information, or to apply for an inspection, call 1-877-ESA-SAFE.
Take special care near power lines
Don't come close to or touch power lines yourself or with equipment. Even touching the equipment that contacts a line could be tragically harmful.
- Be careful if you're installing an antenna; get someone to help you. Touching or even going near a hydro wire with a ladder or antenna could cause serious injury or death. Antennas should be installed well away from power lines; the distance should equal at least the height of the antenna plus 3 metres
- When planting trees or shrubs that will grow tall, make sure they won't grow up into power lines. If you do have a tree growing into a Greater Sudbury Hydro line, please contact us. We will assess the need to trim or cut the tree. If they are private lines, please contact the owner. Do not attempt to prune or chop down a tree near lines yourself; a tree falling onto a power line could cause serious injury or death
- When sailing, always look up to make sure there are no power lines in your path. Contact between them and your mast could be fatal
- When installing a swimming pool, look up! If electrical wires are located within 3m of the edge of the pool (measured horizontally), there must be 4.5m of vertical clearance between the wires and the highest point of the pool area. This includes diving boards, slides and decks
- Remember, many power lines are underground. To cut through one is extremely dangerous and could even black out an entire area. If you’re gardening, landscaping, fencing or doing major excavations, please call Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255
Stay clear of fallen wires
- If you do spot a fallen wire, keep at least 10m away, even if it doesn't appear to be live. Report it to the police and Greater Sudbury Hydro
- If a wire falls across your car while you're in it, don't get out. Wait for a Greater Sudbury Hydro crew to come and safely remove it. Remember, both the car and the ground around it may be electrified
Renovate for Safety
- Be sure you or your contractor follow all local building codes, the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, bylaws and permit requirements.
- All electrical work must be inspected and approved by the Electrical Safety Authority. This inspection must be done prior to covering any wiring with drywall or any other wall/ceiling materials.
- Have a qualified electrician look at your electrical supply, panel and wiring to determine what alterations or additions will be required for your renovation and make arrangements for an electrical inspection.
- Major appliances can draw a lot of electricity. It is important that they are wired by a qualified electrician whose work is inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority.
- Consider fire precautions in any renovation. Do you have multiple exits from your renovated space. Can windows be used as exits. Do you have fire extinguishers and smoke detectors installed?
Buy surge protectors before you need them, for peace of mind, protection and savings.
If you've ever noticed a flicker on your TV or lights, you've experienced a power surge. Too many power surges, or one really big one, could permanently damage your home, TV, VCR, satellite dish, computer, or appliances. That could mean major repair or replacement bills.
Power surges can originate both outside and inside the home. In either case, they can mean damage to your home or equipment. To be fully protected, you need protection for both types of surges.
Power surges that originate outside the home
Power surges can be caused by lightning, ice and wind storms, vehicle accidents involving poles and lines, or neighbours using large amounts of electricity (e.g. power tools). The surges can enter your home through power, telephone, or cable lines.
When an animal touches two pieces of equipment that are at different voltage levels, a small electric current passes through the body. This current is known as "tingle" or "stray" voltage.
About 30 - 40 per cent of all power surges start outside of your home. That's why it's important to get a surge protector that protects your home against outside surges.
Surge protection for outside surges
These surge protectors are installed between your electricity meter and your home. They provide first level protection from power surges that enter from outside the home through power lines. They stop most power surges by preventing their passage beyond the meter base to the main electrical panel and household equipment.
That protects your home, your heating and cooling systems, appliances, and televisions.
Power surges that originate inside the home
Most surges are created inside your home. Turn on a big appliance, like a dryer or air conditioner, and you could a create a brief surge that runs through your wiring possibly damaging the delicate components of your electronic equipment.
Other causes of inside surges include faulty or loose electrical wiring, faulty circuit breakers, overloaded circuits, or poorly grounded wall outlets or appliances.
That's why it's so important to use plug-in surge protectors for your home office equipment such as computers, printers, telephones, and answering machines, and your entertainment systems, including your stereo, television, and VCR.
Today you can buy a variety of plug-in surge protectors designed for each specific task. For basic protection, two or eight-plug units are perfect. For your home office, choose protectors that also allow you to plug in your phone, fax, and modem lines. For your television and entertainment systems, choose the protectors that also include protection for cable or satellite connections.
Real surge protectors vs. cheaper "power bars"
Real surge protectors offer high levels of security. Read the packaging and compare and you'll see that many power bars just aren't advanced enough or quick enough to protect today's sensitive digital equipment. Also compare the manufacturers' warranties.
Look for a lifetime product warranty by the manufacturer, together with a lifetime downline repair or replacement warranty.
Will surge protection plug-ins work with two-prong outlets?
The plug-ins have two-prongs PLUS a ground. To use the plug-ins on any equipment in your home, the wall outlet it is plugged into will need a ground wire. To do this, contact an electrician asking to have three-wire grounded wiring installed at the wall outlet. The surge protection plug-in can then be used with that wall outlet.
Who do I call to check if my home is properly grounded?
Call any qualified electrician or contractor.
Why do I need surge protection if I have property insurance?
Not all insurance policies cover damage from power surges. If your insurance does cover surges, you could be charged a deductible of up to $500. These products can stop a surge from causing damage to your property and therefore eliminate the inconvenience of trying to repair or replace property. The warranty coverage offered on quality surge protectors is primary coverage which does not require you to claim through your property insurance first.
Helpful Safety Resources
- Electrical Safety
- National Fire Prevention Association
- Canada Safety Council
- Sparky the Fire Dog
- Hospital for Sick Children