SPRINGFIELD, Ill., June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – When the weather is nice, it is fun—and healthy—to stretch the legs and enjoy time outside. With the official start of summer on June 21, outdoor activities—baseball games, cookouts, and more—are in full swing. While it's good that we get fresh air and sunshine, make sure all family members are aware of potential hazards to keep outdoor fun safe.
"Make sure your family has a talk about staying safe. This includes safety during storms and safety around power lines and other electrical equipment—including pad mounted transformers, those green metal boxes that contain the above ground portion of an underground electrical installation," says Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. "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."
Safe Electricity has additional outdoor safety tips to make sure your family is aware of:
- Keep yourself, as well as items such as ladders or long poles, at least 10 feet away from power lines in all directions, at all times.
- 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.
- Never enter an electrical substation for any reason. If a ball or other item enters the fence, call your utility for help. Additionally, use caution near solar panels and wind turbines.
- 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.
- 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 when someone's weight is added.
- 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."
With so many outdoor activities happening during summer months, it's essential to plan ahead so that you don't get caught outside in a storm. Hall explains, "There is no safe place from lightning when you are outside. To be as safe as possible you must seek shelter indoors or in an enclosed metal topped vehicle when there is a thunderstorm in the area."
Dr. Che Miller knows this all too well. He echoes the warning, "When thunder roars, go indoors." A survivor of two lightning strikes, his experiences happened while he was a child. Each left him with little memory of the incident but, fortunately, no serious long-term effects. He knows most people are not nearly as lucky when struck by lightning. "Stay inside during a storm, and make sure it is well past the area before going back outside," he advises.
After a storm, wait until 30 minutes has passed without lightning or thunder before you return outside. If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and care for the victim immediately. You are not in danger of being electrocuted by the victim.
Help ensure your family's summer is a safe one. Visit SafeElectricity.org to find more information on accident prevention and safety education to keep you and your loved ones safe.