Safety Information

Before You Dig, Call 811

Call 811 at least 48 hours before you plan to dig on your property for any reason.  Whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, smart digging means calling 811 to locate underground utility lines in your work area. Bandera Electric will be contacted in order to locate primary power lines nearby. You must take advantage of this free service, as you could be liable for damages if underground facilities are affected by digging.

For more information or to submit your request online, visit the Texas 811 website.

General Electrical Safety

  • Outlets — Check for loose-fitting sockets and wiring, and replace missing or broken wall plates and housings — inside and out. Make sure you’re not overloading an outlet with too many plugs. And if you have young children, place safety covers on unused outlets.
  • Appliances and other electrical devices — Check cords, plugs and connectors for any fraying, cracking or other damage. If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or gives off an electrical shock, unplug it immediately. Do not use damaged appliances until you can have them fixed by a qualified repair shop. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs, on top of furniture or across any high-traffic areas. And never use nails or staples to secure cords to walls, floors or any other objects.
  • Extension cords — These are not a permanent wiring solution. If an outlet is not located where you need one, hire a certified electrician to install a new outlet. For temporary use, make sure any extension cords you use have safety closures and keep them away from young children. Never use an indoor extension cord for outdoor use.
  • Electrical panel — Make sure that all breakers and fuses are properly rated for the circuit they protect. When replacing a fuse, use the same size as the one that you are removing. It’s a good idea to hire a certified electrician to identify and label the correct size for each circuit.
  • Light bulbs and fixtures — Be sure to use the proper wattage light bulb for each fixture. Each bulb should be screwed in securely to prevent overheating.
  • Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas — Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on all outlets in any wet area of the home. These inexpensive devices shut power off instantly if there’s a problem, and should be tested on a regular basis (using the test button installed in the outlet).

Outdoor Electrical Safety

  • Use extreme care around power lines. Before climbing a tree, check for overhead wires running near or through limbs. If lines are present do not climb the tree for any reason. Avoid the area when moving ladders, installing antennas or doing other activities involving tall objects. Keep kites, model airplanes and other toys away from power lines. If anything becomes tangled in wires, do not try to remove it.
  • If you encounter a downed power line, do not approach it for any reason. Always assume that the line is energized and dangerous. Never touch an object that is in direct contact with a downed power line — including a car, tree, fence or another person. Electricity can travel through people as well as objects. If a line is down, warn others and contact BEC or law enforcement immediately
  • Do not prune trees growing over or into overhead power lines. Long-handled pruning tools—especially metal tools—are extremely hazardous around power lines. Contact us if you need help.
  • There are also millions of miles of buried utilities below ground, often in unexpected areas. A few days before any digging around your property, call 811 to prevent injury, property damage, service outages and potential fines and repair costs. It’s a free call.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergencies can strike at any time. Storms, fires, floods can cause extended power outages, downed lines and isolation … is your family ready? At Bandera Electric, we encourage our members to plug in cell phones as soon as possible before the storm hits and you lose power. With a charged cell phone, you will still be able to make calls and with a smart phone, you will be able to get regular updates from BEC social media, the online outage viewer, weather reports and local news.

In addition to preemptively charging your phone, it is recommended that you keep batteries, flashlights, a weather radio, bottled water, candles, lighters, canned goods and other non-perishable food items on hand for an emergency. More information for storm preparation tips can be found online at

Generator Safety

Many of our members rely on generators during storms or for other temporary or remote power needs. However, there are a number of hazards involved—including shocks and electrocution, fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Please know the risks and proper safety procedures before using any portable generator  

First Responder and Driving Safety

People, cars, and power lines don’t mix. Unfortunately, automobile accidents or extreme weather events can bring them together. When an overhead power line is down, anything it contacts may become electrified—including the ground. Touching or stepping anywhere near these areas puts first responders in danger of electrocution, whether you are moving toward or away from the area. Walking through an affected area is particularly dangerous, as each footfall may land in different voltage zones—causing a fatal charge to travel up one leg and down the other.

Always assume that a downed wire is energized and contact BEC immediately. Once the line has been de-energized, BEC personnel will notify first responders that it is safe to perform rescue and recovery, traffic control, and other important tasks.

In the event of an automobile accident involving power poles or electricity lines, follow these steps:

  • Stay back and warn others to stay back.
  • Make sure all vehicle occupants stay inside until BEC has arrived to de-energize the lines.
  • If the equipment is operable and can be safely moved out of contact without doing additional damage to the line or poles, ask the driver do so.
  • In the event of fire, instruct the driver and any passengers to jump clear of the vehicle, making sure not to touch the car and the ground at the same time. Then, hop with both feet together to move farther away.

BEC General Clearance Requirements

There are three organizations, the National Electrical Safety Code, National Electric Code and the State of Texas that influence these general standards. When the standard varies, the strictest option is required. If code standards are in question, members are encouraged to contact their local code authority.

Vertical Clearance Requirements for Energized Lines from 0 to 750 volts*

Railroads 24 ft.
Public streets, alleys, roads and highways 22 ft.
Commercial driveways, parking lots & other areas subject to truck traffic 22 ft.
Residential driveways 16 ft.
Other land with vehicle traffic 16 ft.
Spaces or ways with pedestrian traffic 12 ft.
Spaces with limited building height (300 volts or less) No less than 10.5 ft.
Rural land beside roadway 14 ft.
Urban land beside roadway 16 ft.
Swimming areas 22.5 ft.
Building roofs (no pedestrians) 3.5 ft.
Building roofs (with pedestrians) 11 ft.
Signs, chimneys, antennas, tanks 3.5 ft.

*For clearance information on lines energized above 750 volts, contact BEC.

BEC Voltage Standards

BEC follows the range of service voltages in use by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for Electric Power Systems and Equipment C84.1-1989. The term “service voltage” is defined as the point where BEC's electrical system connects with that of a member.

ANSI Standard C84.1

Nominal Service Voltage
Desirable Range
Requires that occurrences of service voltage outside range are infrequent.
Acceptable Range
Occurrences outside the desirable range resulting from practical design or operating conditions that are limited in extent, frequency, and duration.
120 126-114 127-110
208 218-197 220-191
240 252-228 254-220
277 291-263 293-254
480 504-456 508-440

Higher voltages (at primary level) are also part of BEC's nominal service voltages. For information about primary level voltages or more details about our service voltages contact us.


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