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Safety Tips

It’s hard to imagine life without electricity. However, as we get more comfortable using it, we can also become more complacent. As the electricity distribution and supply company to households and businesses within the boundaries of Oshakati, OPE is committed to providing a safe and reliable power supply to its customers. 

We have compiled these electrical safety tips to help you to use electricity safely. 

What to do during a power outage

In the event of a power failure; 

  • Firstly, check that your-prepaid meter box is off or on. In the case where it is off, you should contact the OPE office as soon as possible for help
  • Secondly, find out if you are the only house affected. If you are, then you should check the main box (distribution box) to see if the main power circuit breaker has tripped. If it has, switch it back on. A circuit with a fault should remain off; get it fixed as soon as possible by an OPE approved electrical contractor.

If you are unsure of what to do, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! You must contact the OPE 24-hour Fault Reporting Centre for assistance. If you experience power failures during the day or after working hours, you must contact the 24-hour Fault Reporting Centre at:

Tel: 065-220229/065- 220745  | Toll free: 0819779  | or report it here. This reporting Centre is operational 7 days a week, including public holidays.

Overhead power lines

All power lines are dangerous and should always be treated with extreme caution. Even when the power is off, you should never come close to a power line. 

  • If you notice a power line hanging low or that has fallen to the ground, stay at least eight meters away and call OPE 24-hour Fault Reporting Centre immediately or report it here.
  • Never attempt to rescue anything or anyone caught in power lines. Immediately call OPE for help
  • Encourage children to play in an area clear of power lines
  • Trees and vegetation growing too close to power lines can cause power outages, they create safety hazards such as grass fires and bushfires and increase the risk of electrocution. 

Overgrown trees near overhead power lines

Why does OPE need to trim overgrown trees?

  • When trees touch power lines, they cause power dips for customers and in some instances, greater areas of Oshakati can trip
  • Poor power quality affects the quality of life; from the simple flickering of lights, to equipment damage and may even include sustained power interruptions
  • Trees touching power lines pose a safety risk as certain parts of the tree will be at certain voltages and people in the tree, or touching the tree can be exposed to electrical shock
  • In terms of the Electricity Act, it is the responsibility of residents to inform OPE about trees approaching these power lines.

Whose responsibility is it to keep trees away from power lines?

  • In Oshakati, OPE will require that they themselves cut overgrown trees to minimise safety risks and control the quality of what is done. Please inform OPE at 220 229 when you see a tree growing near power lines

What are the right procedures to be followed before trees are cut down? Do personnel of OPE have the right to come and cut trees without the customers’ consent?

  • Yes, as it is OPE’s obligation under the Namibian Safety Code.  OPE personnel will approach the residents on site and explain to them the situation before cutting the overgrown tree.

What happens when one fails to comply with the regulations involved in tree trimming?

  • There will be power trips and even frequent power outages in your area.  The risk of electrical shock remains high as something that is not insulated is touching a live power line, so anyone else touching it, is at risk.

How will a customer know that the tree needs to be trimmed?

  • If the tree is (2) meters or less away from the power lines.

For future homeowners, what precautions do they need to follow before they embark on tree planting? 

  • Do not plant trees under power lines or close to your house’s front border as shading is in any event best inside the yard where the shade can provide a pleasant environment.

Which acts, policy, regulations or guidelines support OPE in tree trimming? 

  • The Namibian Electrical Safety Code, as referenced in the Electricity Act of 2007, requires all structures to be at least two (2) meters away from an 11kV line
  • This creates a tunnel within a two (2) meter radius around a bare overhead power line through which things are not allowed to overhang 
  • If they do, they need to be removed, or in the case of trees, trimmed to ensure safety requirements are complied with, and quality of electrical supply to customers remains as good as it should be
  • In the safety environment, there need to be no risk to people, animals, equipment and lastly continuity of supply to the customer and trees, out of bounds affects all of these

Bypassing/Illegal Connections and tampering with meter boxes

  • Bypassing electricity is when someone tampers with the electricity meter, preventing it from recording the power used at any given time
  • An illegal connection is when someone from a certain ERF gives electricity to someone in a different ERF. This should never be done. It is unsafe, dangerous and can cause electrocution
  • An electricity connection is illegal when it is made to the OPE distribution system without OPE’s permission
  • Supplying another house using an extension lead is dangerous since any metal object (like a shovel) that strikes and damages the extension lead, can kill someone 
  • Bypass & illegal connections are illegal offenses. Rather contact OPE/Electricity Supply Authority and apply for a legal connection to avoid being fined and the connection removed 
  • If a person moves into an ERF or premises and suspects that there is an illegal connection/bypass, they must report it immediately to OPE
  • Meter tampering or bypassing is dangerous and illegal. Only an authorised OPE technician may work on meter boxes and meters. If your metering installation is identified as being tampered with you will be fined.

Electricity and safety in the home

  • While it may be safe to do simple electrical work around your home, such as changing light bulbs and fuses (make sure that the power is first switched off), any changes to the wiring must always be performed by a licensed electrician. Make sure plugs fit securely into outlets and don’t force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit 
  • Switch off the wall socket before pulling the plug out 
  • Unplug appliances before cleaning them or repairing them
  • Never put metal objects in live parts of appliances or outlets
  • Always pull on the plug and not the cord since the cord may pull out of the plug and pose a danger to you and your family
  • Examine electrical cords to be sure they are not frayed and replace any damaged cords or cables
  • Never place electrical cords across areas where people walk or under carpets
  • Never use extension cords as permanent wiring, especially outside the house 
  • All electrical appliances must not be used within reach of water and should not be used in a bathroom 
  • Never touch electrical appliances or switches with wet hands and do not fill a kettle with water when plugged in 
  • Watch out for a tingling feeling when touching metal in your home, such as taps, sinks and appliances. This can be an indication that there is an underlying electrical fault 
  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions when purchasing new electrical appliances 
  • If an appliance has a damaged power cord, switch it off immediately at the power point, disconnect the appliance and have the cord repaired or replaced
  • Never handle wiring that is damaged or worn. Contact a licensed electrician to replace it.

Vandalism and damage to electrical infrastructure

  • Do not interfere with or vandalise OPE property – it can lead to being injured or killed, and it makes electricity more expensive for everyone in Oshakati
  • It is a criminal offence to deliberately damage mini-substations, kiosks, power lines, poles, wires, meter boxes and to steal fencing, covers and any other OPE infrastructure. This can create dangerous safety hazards and disrupt the electricity supply.

Overloading – Power points and power boards

  • Running too many appliances off one power point by piggy-backing double adaptors, or connecting power boards together, can overload the circuit and lead to overheating, damage to equipment, or even cause a fire in your home or office 
  • Your house is equipped with a main circuit breaker which will trip if you use too many appliances at the same time. All electrical appliances have a rating in Watts (W or kW). Learn what the ratings of your appliances are and which ones you can use at the same time without tripping the main circuit breaker.

Using electrical appliances outdoors

  • Plug appliances and power tools into an earthed power point or extension cord. Never leave electrical appliances and cords outdoors and exposed to rain or water 
  • Never use electrical appliances and cords near a pool or near water. 

Keeping our youth safe

  • Electrical outlets and extension cords are not safe for children to play with. Use appropriate safety plugs and teach children that these items are not for play 
  • Using electrical appliances such as radios, television, or blow-dryers near water can be dangerous 
  • Teach your children not to play under or near power lines 
  • Touching a power line or anything in contact with a line can severely hurt and even kill them
  • Never fly a kite near power linesNever allow children to climb trees near power lines
  • Warn children never to go inside a substation and to stay clear of them 
  • Teach your children how to identify electrical lines, transformers and substations so that they don’t play near them
  • Take extra care when your baby starts to crawl or walk and keep them away from cords and plugs.

Power Failure and tripping of circuit breakers

  • Always know where the “mains” box in your home is located
  • Circuit breakers are installed to automatically disconnect a circuit if it draws too much power. This can be due to a fault creating a short circuit, or by overloading the circuit
  • If you are the only house affected by a power failure, check the “mains” box to see if the main power switch has tripped. If it has, switch it back on again 
  • If a sub-circuit trips without tripping the main circuit breaker, then you are probably using too many appliances on that sub-circuit. Unplug some appliances and try switching the circuit on again. Switch all other circuit breakers off (except the main one), then switch on the main one. If the main one now stays on, switch the sub-circuits on one by one. When you switch on the one that has a fault, then the main circuit breaker should trip when you switch that sub-circuit on. Switch the faulty sub-circuit off and keep it off until a qualified electrician can find the fault and repair it. In the meantime, you can switch all other circuits back on 
  • Should all the houses in your area be affected by a power failure, this is an indication that the main power supply in your area is affected which OPE will be aware of
  • Always treat electrical outlets or networks as live, even when the power is off, because it can come back on at any time.

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