Get a jump on sprucing up by following these tips

LITTLE ROCK – It’s that time of year again when we've all set our clocks ahead one hour to spring forward.

It’s also the time of year for spring cleaning and outdoor home improvement projects. As we all begin to venture outside again to tackle those outdoor projects, now is the perfect time to brush up on your outdoor safety knowledge.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself and your home this spring:

• Look up and out for overhead power lines. Staying away from power lines is one of the most important ways you can stay safe when you are outdoors. Overhead power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity and are not insulated, making them deadly to touch. If you come in contact with a power line or an object you are holding, like a tree limb, ladder or even a kite, touches the line, you will become a path for the electricity to find the ground.

• Always assume power lines are energized, even if they are down or underground and do not spark or hum. If you do see a downed line or a tree branch that is dangerously close to a power line, call 1-800-ENTERGY.

• Remember, water and electricity do not mix. Keep electrical appliances and power cords away from wet areas. And never touch electrical cords or appliances if you’re wet or standing in water.

• Plant the right trees in the right place. When adding new trees to your landscaping, consider placement and tree height at maturity, and avoid planting trees that will grow tall under power lines or in an area where they could damage your home in a storm.

• Don’t encourage the wildlife! Believe it or not, many power outages are caused by animals. Squirrels like to travel along power lines and tree limbs, which can give them access to make your attic their home sweet home and potentially short out transformers in the process. Do not invite them over by keeping tree limbs trimmed away from power lines and buildings.

• Call before you dig. It is important to know what is underground before you begin any project that requires digging. Hitting an electric line can shock or kill you and cause power outages. When you call 811, the local one-call utility locator service, they will mark the location of underground utilities, so you can carry on with digging safely.

• Let the light shine. Make sure your outdoor lighting adequately illuminates walkways to prevent tripping hazards after dark and that your bulbs are intended for outdoor use. If you need to replace them, opt for energy efficient bulbs to help light the way to lower bills.

Daylight Saving Time can also be used as an opportunity to refresh items in your emergency supply kits at home, in the office and in the car. Items may have expired or been used and not replaced, so be sure to check your kits and make sure you’re prepared for any emergency.

It’s also a good time to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.