Life-changing stories reveal dangers of electricity
Safety is a serious issue, especially when it comes to electrical safety. Each year thousands of people in the United States are critically injured and electrocuted because of electrical accidents.
Many of these accidents are preventable. We use electricity every day for so many things that we forget it can be deadly. Its invisible force is so commonplace that it’s easy to overlook electrical hazards, even if they’re right in front of you.
Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, which provides insurance coverage to Rock Energy and many other energy co-ops, reports that claims of public contact with energized equipment increased significantly in May. A total of 18 claims were reported, compared with the six-year average of 11 for May.
Three of those accidents resulted in death. In one instance, a co-op member died while working on an irrigation pump. The other two fatalities involved a contractor who hit underground lines while installing an anchor and an irrigation contractor who made contact on the member’s side of the meter.
Accidents involving overhead lines easily can be avoided because the lines are in plain sight. The safety slogan “Look Up and Live” reminds everyone that they should look for overhead power lines whenever they’re working or playing outside.
Some of Federated’s public contact claims in May involved overhead lines:
• A sailboat mast snagged a communications line, bringing down three electric poles.
• A member hit overhead lines with a metal pole.
• A member trying to remove a tree limb made contact with overhead lines.
• A contactor’s backhoe hit a telecommunications line, breaking a pole and bringing down electric lines.
Fortunately, no one died in these accidents, but they could have.
Underground lines are trickier because we can’t see them. That’s why it’s so important to call 811 before every digging project. The call and service are absolutely free. Professional locators are sent to your planned digging site and mark underground lines with flags or spray paint, so you know where not to dig.
Safety—your safety, our workers’ safety, the public’s safety—is a priority for Rock Energy. Over time, we have created a culture of safety by putting our employees’ safety and that of the community above everything. That’s why many of the articles in this magazine and on the www.rock.coop website focus on safety.
I’d also like to call your attention to SafeElectricity.org. The website is the public awareness program of the Energy Education Council, a non-profit organization whose members include hundreds of energy providers, including Rock Energy. The council’s mission is to create a safer, smarter world by providing life-saving, energy-saving, and cost-saving information and resources.
One of the group’s programs is called “Teach Learn Care.” The TLC campaign shares stories of people whose lives have changed because of electrical accidents. It encourages people to teach what you know, learn what you need to, and care enough to share it with others.
Go to the SafeElectricity.org website and click on “Public Education” to find a wealth of safety information you can use and share. In the videos section, you can learn about a former lineman who was seriously injured in an accident involving overhead power lines. Told by the lineman and his family, the story helps professionals and do-it-yourselfers understand the importance of planning projects to avoid contact with overhead lines.
The life-changing impacts of power line accidents are detailed in another video that features an accident survivor and his family. He lost his left hand and sternum and suffered numerous burns and injuries because of his accident with an overhead power line.
Other videos share the story of two teenagers who survived an auto accident involving power lines because they had learned the right steps to take to stay safe, a feature about the importance of taking the proper steps to ensure safe digging, a story about the dangers of operating large equipment near overhead power lines, and the tragic account of a 12-year-old girl who lost her life to household current through a faulty outdoor lamp.
A 30-minute live power line demonstration also can be seen on the site. It illustrates indoor and outdoor safety considerations related to home, work, and play. The need for electrical safety is important for everyone, young or old. Information and awareness create life-saving attitudes and actions.
Our goal is to educate people so they can avoid tragic accidents, injuries, and death. Please stay safe as you enjoy the rest of the summer. And, as always, let us know if there’s anything we can do to improve our service to you. We truly are grateful to be your energy provider.