Children often do not understand the danger of electricity and electrical equipment. In their innocent and imaginative minds, what can be potentially dangerous may go unnoticed or even appear enticing and fun. Take an opportunity to point out overhead power lines and any other electrical equipment to children and explain what they are.
Safe Electricity recommends teaching children to follow these rules:
- Never climb trees near power lines. Even if the power lines are not touching the tree, they could touch when more weight is added to the branch.
- Kites and model airplanes should be flown only during good weather conditions in large open areas, like an open park or a wide field. Keep kites away from overhead power lines or other electrical equipment, such as substations. If a kite gets stuck in a tree near power lines, do not climb up to get it. Electricity can travel down kite strings or wires. Contact your electric utility for assistance.
- Never climb a utility pole or tower. The electricity carried through this equipment is high voltage and could kill you.
- Don’t play on or around pad-mounted electrical equipment. These are often green metal “boxes” on cement pads and contain transformers.
- Never go into an electric substation. Electric substations contain high-voltage equipment; even raising your hand inside one can cause an arc that may cause an electric shock. Never attempt to retrieve a pet, ball, or any toy from these areas. Call your electric utility instead.
- Immediately seek shelter if lightning or thunder is present while playing outdoors.
When designing a tree house or outdoor play area for children, take preventive precautions before starting your project. Do not install playground equipment or swimming pools underneath or near power lines. Installation of either will require digging; call your local underground utility locating service to have buried lines marked, so you can avoid serious injury and damage.
Protect all family members from serious shock and injuries by installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on outdoor outlets and in interior rooms where water is present. A GFCI shuts off power instantly if it detects a problem. Use portable GFCIs for outdoor outlets that don’t have them. GFCIs are affordably priced and found at hardware stores.
Be careful using electrical appliances outdoors, even if plugged into GFCI-equipped outlets. Never use appliances with frayed or damaged extension cords and always be sure the ground prong is intact.
Teach kids never touch an electric appliance while in a pool or hot tub, to keep all electrical appliances at least ten feet away from pools, ponds, and wet surfaces, and that it is never safe to swim in a pool or lake when a storm is brewing.
Teach older children to exercise caution before plugging in a radio, CD player, or any electrical gadget outdoors and never leave any electrical appliance outside. If it rains, the device could get wet and cause an electrical shock when used later.
Flooded areas are never safe spots to wade or play in, and if there has been severe weather, may be in contact with energized electrical equipment or fallen power lines left behind.
Make sure your family members know to stay away from downed power lines and wires and tell children to report any fallen or dangling wires to an adult. Downed power lines are dangerous; always assume any power line is energized and stay far away. Call your local utility immediately if you or your child encounters a downed power line and include this number with other posted emergency phone numbers.