Mild fall weather has everyone outdoors, many of them working on and around their homes. AmerenUE is reminding folks to look up … look down.

Look up, know where the power lines are, and look down … be aware of what underground utilities might be buried where you’re getting ready to dig. AmerenUE spokesman Tim Fox says there’s any easy way to see what lies below. And he says safety isn’t the only reason to check — it’s Missouri law. The location service is at 1.800.DIG.RITE (1.800.552.7583).

One week ago, a natural gas line explosion in San Bruno, California killed one person, injured 20, destroyed 53 homes and damaged 120 more. Fox says he hopes the incident draws awareness to the potential dangers underground.

AmerenUE issues the following safety reminders:

Never touch or approach a downed power line. Assume any downed line is an electric line and that it is live. Call your local electric utility or 911 whenever you see a downed line. Call 1.800.552.7583 to report a line to AmerenUE.

When working from ladders or climbing in and around trees, check to make sure there are no power lines near you.

If you are painting or making repairs on your house, be careful where you carry and place your ladder. Avoid contact with overhead wires.

Avoid planting trees in locations that will cause problems with power lines once the trees are fully grown.

Before planting trees or doing any digging, first call the utility location service to have underground lines marked. In Illinois, just call JULIE – Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators – at 1.800.892.0123 (1.800-DIG.RITE).

Watch for or correct problems with cords and faulty sockets. Avoid jerking on wires. It can break insulation and damage plugs.

Avoid walking on extension cords. Do not place cords under rugs or carpets where they can be walked upon or where someone can trip over them.

Avoid placing too many appliances on one outlet or socket.

Never replace a fuse with one that will carry more amps or with a coin.

Don’t operate fans or heaters where small children can touch or fall on them. Also keep lighting wires away from toddlers.

Keep electrical connections off the ground and away from pools of water.

Avoid running outdoor lights or extension cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged.

Make sure appliances are unplugged when working on them.

Never immerse electric appliances in water or operate appliances while using water to bathe or wash something.

Don’t leave irons unattended while they are plugged in. Keep appliances clean, and check them periodically for frayed wires or other problems.

Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.4 million electric and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri. For more safety tips, visit

Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:26 min.]