Drones are a popular holiday gift for budding pilots of all ages who want to explore the skies, and FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) is reminding the public to keep electrical safety in mind as they try out their gifts and celebrate with loved ones. Before taking flight outdoors, novice flyers are encouraged to play the company’s free video game to learn about drone safety in a fun and interactive way.
While drones can be safe when used correctly, flying them close to power lines, substations or other electrical equipment could cause serious damage and pose significant safety risks to you and other people nearby.
“Drones have become a must-have gadget for the holidays because they can perform stunts, take photographs or even stream video, but like driving a car, there is an inherent responsibility that goes along with the activity to keep yourself safe and the power flowing reliably,” said Candace Webb, manager of public safety at FirstEnergy.
To help ensure the holidays are enjoyed responsibly, please keep the following drone safety tips in mind:
- Become a licensed pilot before flying a drone
- Register a drone weighing more than a half-pound with the Federal Aviation Administration
- Stay at least 200 feet away from power lines or other electrical equipment
- Fly your drone at or below 400 feet, and keep it at an altitude where it can be seen
- Do not fly in dark or windy conditions
- Never try to get your drone if it crashes on or near a downed line or substation. Call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) and a FirstEnergy employee will retrieve it safely
To get familiarized with drone safety, the public can visit FirstEnergy’s Drone Safety Zone, the first video game of its kind in the utility industry that allows players to learn current rules and best practices for drone operators while racing against others. The faster they answer a question correctly, the greater the boost advantage will be when the game starts, giving players a competitive edge so they can reach a higher rank on the game’s leaderboard.
In addition to drone safety, FirstEnergy encourages people of all ages to keep the following information in mind when exchanging gifts and taking down holiday decorations this season:
- Read all manufacturer labels for toys or items that will be used by or around children. Check to make sure the child meets the age requirements specified on the label
- If gifts require batteries, exercise the same caution as you would give toys with small parts. Many batteries, especially small button cells, pose choking risks if children can open the battery covers
- Gifts that plug into outlets and have cords can pose strangulation and shock risks
- With time, Christmas trees continue to dry out making them increasingly flammable. Trees decorated with holiday lights have an increased risk because they’re in direct contact with an electrical source. Check with your local community to find a recycling program through which to dispose of your tree early in the new year
- Always unplug decorations by using the gripping area. Pulling on the cord could damage the wire and present a shock or fire hazard
- As you take down holiday lights, inspect the wiring and discard any that have cracked, frayed or appear to have damaged wire insulation
- Label or store indoor decorations separate from those intended for outdoor use
More tips on staying safe around electricity and near power lines and equipment are available on FirstEnergy’s “Stop. Look. Live.” safety website at firstenergycorp.com/publicsafety.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp or online at www.firstenergycorp.com.