Member Safety

Safety to the Public, Members, & Its Employees Is Top Priority to the Staff at Four County Electric Membership Corporation

This is demonstrated by the dedication and commitment by all employees. Four County EMC participates in a national accreditation program every three years. The program is sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, it reviews maintenance records, training, facilities and construction procedures. By meeting or exceeding the national standards, Four County EMC is able to provide safer and more reliable electric service.

Electricity is a powerful energy source. Electricity makes many things possible in our lives. There is no safer energy source than electricity, but please do not take your safety around electricity for granted.

Our Electrical System

Fact: Every year there are over 300 deaths and 1,200 injuries related to electrical accidents.

Four County EMC’s electrical system is comprised of transmission and distribution lines. The total line miles total over 5,000. Every inch of these lines is deadly. Our employees are trained for years before they can safely work on and operate these lines. At no time should anyone that has not had the proper training or the proper equipment attempt to work on or around these lines. If there is an emergency situation that needs attention that involves a line from an overhead pole or underground line contact Four County EMC. Do not attempt to move or relocate these lines for any reason.

Inside Your Home


Having trouble with a plug not fitting into an outlet tightly? This could be a safety hazard in need of repair. Loose or poor connections will cause overheating that may eventually cause a fire.

Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) on circuits that have outlets near sources of water such as the kitchen bathrooms and exterior outlets. This can be accomplished by installing a GFCI breaker or a properly located GFCI outlet.

Use outlet safety covers to prevent children from inserting objects into the outlet. Replace any cracked outlet covers.

Surge Protection

In the age of computers, circuit boards and other sensitive equipment, surge protection must be considered. Power surges may originate from within the home or from an outside source. These surges can possibly destroy delicate equipment.

Regular power strips do not provide surge protection. Surge suppressors, which look like power strips, offer protection that reacts instantly and can handle high voltage surges.

Four County Electric offers a surge protection system called PowerGuard. This system offers excellent protection and the investment is only a fraction of the cost to repair or replace home equipment.

Call your local Four County EMC office for more details.

Flickering Lights

Flickering lights, fuses blowing, and breakers tripping are all signs of some type of electrical problem.

If you experience these events often, you should have a qualified electrician perform an electrical system inspection. A professional may locate potential trouble spots and prevent a tragic incident such as a house fire.

Extension Cords

Due to the increase in electrical appliances and electronic equipment, many homes today simply do not have enough outlets. This creates the need to use more and more extension cords.

Use Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) approved cords. Do not overload cords and outlets and use current limiting power strips.

The use of extension cords should only be temporary. If the extension cord has become a permanent part of your home’s wiring, you should consider having a qualified electrician install an outlet.

Electrical Safety Outdoors

Work Safely Around Power Lines

Electricity is just as important in rural areas as in the more populated cities. Due to activities such as farming and rural economic development, more potential hazards are present. Every year on farms and construction sites serious accidents occur due to the lack of understanding about what hazards exist and how they can be avoided.

Most of these incidents could be avoided by practicing a few simple steps.

  • Make sure your family and employees know the locations of all overhead and underground power lines – They need to understand that when a person makes contact with a power line, a path to ground is created for current to flow and this current has the potential to cause serious injury and even death
  • When using large equipment such as combines, cranes, and irrigation equipment everyone should know the equipment height – To prevent accidental contact, always stay at least 10 feet from any power lines.
  • Always plan your work or the movement of any equipment – Most accidents occur when equipment is raised or repositioned – Use a spotter to watch and insure that clearances are maintained
  • Keep your distance from equipment such as poles, pad mount transformers, and even guy wires – Hitting these items can be extremely hazardous

Call Before You Dig

Underground wire installations are becoming more common on today’s electrical systems.

So don’t let your guard down just because the lines are not visible. When digging, you may cut or damage the wire. This may cause an outage or even worse you could receive an electrical shock causing injury or even death.

Don’t take a chance.

Call the North Carolina One-Call Center 48 hours before you dig at (800) 632-4949. They will notify the utility that a locate has been requested.

Landscaping Reminders

Peoples prefer underground electric lines in their neighborhoods.

Pad-mounted transformers are part of the underground system. They are placed on easements in yards and serve the same purpose as transformers on utility poles. Because transformers may serve several homes, underground lines may go out from them in many directions.

Here are guidelines to remember when you plant near transformers:

  • Always call North Carolina One-Call Center, at (800) 632-4949 before you dig anywhere in your yard. North Carolina One-Call will notify underground utility services for you.
  • Maintain a 10-foot clearance in front of the transformer. Equipment inside is energized at high voltage. Line crews work on “energized” transformers to avoid interrupting your service. The linemen use long fiberglass (insulating) sticks and need a clear space to work safely.
  • Maintain a 3-foot clearance to the sides and back of the transformer. Equipment inside the box generates heat and needs air circulation to keep cool and run efficiently. Overheating could cause an outage.
  • Use gravel, wood chips, grass, or low ground cover around the transformer. Flowers are okay but may get trampled if we have to work on it. To maintain reliable service, we open the transformer and inspect it periodically.

Call our office at (888) 368-7289 for more information.

Meter Tampering

Tampering with electric lines and meters is illegal and extremely dangerous.

Breaking a meter seal and or bypassing utility equipment could cause electrical shock and even death. Meter tampering and power diversion is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable with fines and even imprisonment.

If you witness someone tampering with their electric service, contact Four County Electric. If you need to disconnect your electric service for reasons such as to perform repairs or move a mobile home, call us first, we’ll be glad to assist.

Inspect Tools Regularly

Prior to using any outdoor power tool, check the cord for nicks and exposed wiring, broken and/or damaged plugs.

While using the tool be sure that the power cord is not in danger of being cut or damaged.

Exercise Caution When Using Ladders

Some power line construction is overhead in residential areas.

If need to use a ladder for outdoor work, please survey the area and be sure to look up. If your ladder comes in contact with power lines, it can have tragic results.

Safety from Copper Theft

Thefts of copper, aluminum, and other metals from various sources are on the rise, most dangerously from electric utility poles and substations.

But in the pursuit of copper, intruders are gambling with their lives. Robbers have taken to cutting through substation fencing to take copper reels, and copper products have also been stolen from utility trucks, transformers, worksites, and storage facilities. Several electric utilities have been targeted across the country. In some cases, intruders have been electrocuted and killed.

There have been complaints of copper theft locally and in the state, enough to cause growing concern over member safety.

Member Safety

Four County EMC cares about the safety of our members.

To protect the public we surround our substations with secure fencing and post warning signs. But some thieves will not be deterred. No one should ever climb substation fences, utility poles, or towers; stay away from power lines and anything touching a power line.

Copper is used to ground our equipment, protecting it from electrical surges and lightning by giving electricity a safe path to ground. When copper grounding is removed from our poles and equipment, outages are more likely and hazardous conditions develop. It is costly to replace the copper grounding. And, that costs our members’ money!

Copper Theft is a Crime

Stealing copper is extremely dangerous and is against the law! Copper theft is a felony crime and offenders will be prosecuted.

What Can You Do?

If you notice anything unusual or see anyone other than our utility personnel or contractors around substations, vehicles, poles, or other electric facilities, please call 911 and Four County EMC at (888) 368-7289.

Electricity Is a Necessity

However, extra precautions are needed to minimize the potential of electric shock hazards in the home. Educating children about electricity and its dangers can help prevent accidents.

While at play outdoors, they should never play near power lines. Kites and model airplanes should always be flown in an open field. If any object becomes caught in the power lines or on electrical equipment, never try to retrieve it. Call your power company and let the pros handle removing the object.

Children are always exploring. By climbing up trees or on top of structures they decrease the clearance between power lines and themselves. They should be warned of the potentially dangerous situation.

Underground Cables

Underground cable is being used more and more to provide service to homes and businesses. Children must know not to dig in areas with underground wires.

Along with the underground wires are ground-mounted transformers and switching cabinets. This electrical equipment should be off-limits. Please report any open or damaged equipment to your local utility immediately.

Childproofing Outlets

Childproofing outlets is another way to eliminate potential hazards.

Children will often try to insert objects into outlets. These objects range from keys to screwdrivers and even tiny fingers. For little cost and effort, these outlets can be blocked with outlet covers.

Exposed Electrical Cords

Exposed electrical cords are another attraction to toddlers.

Try to position cords so that they are out of reach. If possible tape or carefully staple the cord to the floor. Make sure that frayed cords are discarded.


Substations are another area that is off-limits to unauthorized personnel.

The substation is an area that is surrounded by fencing for the purpose of creating a boundary and safe zone around large, energized equipment. No one should ever enter the fenced area for any reason.

Amber Alerts Program

Four County has partnered with the NC Amber Alert program to help locate missing children.

The Amber Alert program is designed to safely recover missing children who are in danger of serious injury or death. When an Amber Alert is dispatched by law enforcement, electric cooperative personnel will then relay the alert instantly to personnel in the field via electronic messaging.

The addition of such a wide geographic distribution of personnel, often in out-of-the-way areas, should prove a major asset to the state’s Amber Alert system. Time is precious during abduction. A recent U.S. Department of Justice report determined that in 40% of 115 juvenile abductions studied, the child was murdered usually within 24 hours of abduction. However, a study by the Washington state Attorney General’s Office indicated that in 75% of child abduction/murder cases studied, death occurred within the first three hours of kidnapping. The North Carolina Amber Alert System was first activated in June 2002 and resulted in a Franklin County infant being returned unharmed from a babysitter who abducted the child and transported it to another county.

Inclusion in the Amber Alert program is an example of Four County’s commitment to its communities.

Four County Electric Performs Periodic Inspections & Maintenance on the Electrical System

These inspections are performed by meter readers, service workers, and other line service personnel. The inspections are an effort to maintain a complex system to provide safe and reliable electricity.

As a member, you can help Four County Electric provide safe and reliable electric service. Report potentially hazardous conditions such as:

  • Low or downed power lines
  • Broken insulators
  • Broken or leaning poles
  • Objects such as antennas, satellites, or other equipment near power lines
  • Vines growing on poles
  • Unlocked underground cabinets
  • Washouts or exposed wire near underground equipment
  • Children climbing on substation fences or utility poles

Downed Power Lines

If you discover a low or downed line make sure you do the following:

  • Consider all wires energized
  • Secure the area to insure that others stay clear. You may have to stay at the location until someone can call Four County Electric

If you are in a vehicle that has contact with a line, stay inside. View our line safety video below. You can use your cellular phone to call for help. As others approach, warn them not to touch the vehicle and have them call for help.

Please report any visible damage to our electrical system. We will dispatch maintenance crews for repairs.

Line Safety Video