Signs of spring are all around us, and many of us have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. While it is good that we get fresh air and sunshine, there are hazards that we need to make sure kids are aware of to keep them safe.
"It is important to talk to them about staying safe. Electric utility equipment can be part of the landscape, and they must understand that they need to stay away from it," says Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program.
Here are some safety tips to share with children before they head outside to play:
n Never enter an electrical substation for any reason. If a ball or other toy goes over the fence, call your utility for help. Additionally, use caution near solar panels and wind turbines.
n Stay away from pad mounted transformers, which are those green metal boxes that contain the above ground portion of an underground electrical installation. These cabinets carry high voltages and are safe when locked, but they can be deadly if someone reaches inside. If you see one in your neighborhood that is open, call authorities and your utility immediately.
n Never climb trees near power lines. They could be conductors of electricity if branches touch the wires. Even if branches are not touching power lines, they could if weight from a child is added.
n Do not fly kites or model planes near overhead power lines or electrical substations. A kite string can conduct electricity from an overhead power line to the person on the ground.
n Storm fronts can move rapidly, and lightning is a potential danger 10 miles in advance of a storm. The rule of thumb from the National Weather Service is, "when thunder roars, go indoors." Make sure kids know not to seek shelter under a tree or open picnic shelter.
n Ensure your children are protected from the electrical service connection to your home. Keep ladders or long poles stowed and away from youngsters who might be tempted to use them to reach the wires connected to your house.
n If electric wires in your neighborhood have sagged for some reason or a tree limb has pushed the line out of place, keep your neighborhood safe by alerting your electric utility.