RISMEDIA, July 2, 2009-Summer is a time for recreation, but it is also a time that brings new hazards. PECO encourages you to take your time to make sure children and family members stay safe and have fun at the same time during outdoor play, particularly around water or when summer storms occur.
Electricity is essential energy – it keeps us cool in the summer, lights our house, keeps the refrigerator cold, and runs the TV, stereo and computers. But you can create dangers with electricity. It doesn’t take much power for someone to hurt themselves – an adult can be killed with less than one-fifth of the electricity it takes to light a bulb.
Children often do not understand the dangerous situation that they can create with electricity. Take some time to get down and view the surroundings from a child’s vantage point to identify possible dangerous situations. For safety outdoors, PECO recommends children and adults follow these rules:
- Always assume that electrical equipment is energized. Stay away from electrical equipment on the ground and overhead. Never climb a utility pole or tower. Don’t play on or around pad-mounted electrical equipment. Electrical power poles and utility equipment should never be used as a playground.
Never climb trees near power lines. Even if the power lines aren’t touching the tree, they could touch when more weight is added to the branch.
- Fly kites and model airplanes safely away from trees and overhead power lines. If a kite gets tangled in a tree that’s near power lines, don’t climb up to get it.
- Never go into an electric substation. Electric substations contain highly dangerous high-voltage power equipment. Don’t retrieve a toy or rescue a pet that goes inside.
- Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders and pool skimmers.
Doug Mokoid, PECO safety manager, suggests adults teach what they know about electrical safety. In most instances, Mokoid said, if potential safety concerns are taken into consideration and handled proactively, accidents could be avoided. “Electricity and water can be a dangerous combination for people,” he said. “Caution children and family members about the danger of using electrical appliances in wet areas – even wet grass can create a dangerous condition.”
- Supervise the use of extension cords outside, check them carefully for exposed wires, and make sure they are in good shape, and not frayed or cracked. Use only extension cords that are rated and marked for outdoor use, and are large enough to handle the current needed for the device you are using.
- Check that the prongs on the extension cord plugs are clean, not broken or bent. Make sure the ground prong is intact in a three-prong plug, and avoid use of adapters.
- Summertime is water recreation time for millions. While enjoying water activities, don’t create a dangerous situation that will dampen your summer fun. According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), deaths and serious shocks occur in and around swimming pools each year.
- Never touch an electrical appliance if you are wet; always dry off completely. And, never swim during a thunderstorm. If children wish to play with sprinklers or hoses, reinforce that they should be set up well away from any electrical outlets or appliances.
- Be careful using electrical appliances outdoors. Whether it is a bug zapper, an electric charcoal lighter, or a radio or CD player, caution must be exercised. Use battery operated, rather than electrical, appliances near swimming pools. Keep electronics and electrical appliances and tools at least 10 feet away from pools, ponds and wet surfaces.
- Be sure you use outlets that have weatherproof covers and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to prevent serious shock injuries. Any electrical outlets within 20 feet of a pool or spa should be equipped with a GCFI, or ground fault circuit interrupter. Use portable GFCIs for outdoor outlets that don’t have them.
- Never install pools underneath or near power lines. Watch for and stay away from overhead power lines when cleaning pools, sailing or fishing. Pools and decks should be built at least 5 feet away from all underground electrical lines, and at least 25 feet away from overhead electrical lines.
- Summer is often a peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena-lightning. That is why the National Weather Service has adopted the saying: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining, even if you don’t see clouds. This means that if you can hear thunder, you’re within striking distance.
“If thunderstorms and lightning are approaching, the safest location is indoors away from doors and windows with the shades drawn. Stay away from water, electric appliances and other objects that could conduct electricity, and use only cordless or cell phones to make emergency calls,” said Mokoid. Phone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the U.S.
A direct strike is not necessary for lightning voltage to enter your home through phone lines, electrical wires, cables and plumbing. Turn off and unplug appliances well before a storm nears – never during. Don’t expect a surge protector to save appliances from a lightning strike, unplug it as well. More information on lightning safety can be found at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation.
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