Area first responders, firefighters, excavators and tow truck drivers learned valuable lessons at an electrical safety seminar Monday night presented by Runestone Electric Association and Alexandria Light and Power.
Three linemen - Josh McGrane and Travis Brede from REA and Mike McGrane from ALP - demonstrated what can go wrong when coming in contact with live wires and stressed the importance of paying attention at all times to where electrical lines are in and around your home and neighborhood.
Sparks flew several times during the demonstration as they put a metal ladder on a live wire, stepped on a live wire with a rubber boot and touched a live wire with a glove on that had a hole in it. They used a hot dog in place of a person's finger in the glove and the hot dog was toasted afterward.
They emphasized calling 911 whenever wires are down, such as after a storm or possibly from a car crash, and before digging in a yard to call Gopher State One Call or the "Call Before You Dig" hotline at 811.
Because electricity can't always been seen, Josh McGrane said, "It's so important to always, always call before you dig."
During their demonstrations, the linemen showed what can happen when squirrels interfere with electrical lines, as well as when ladders or even kites come in contact with live wires and a variety of other scenarios.
They shared numerous tips for trying to stay safe. Here are a few:
• Pay attention to where your children are flying kites. Make sure they are doing so in an open area away from power lines.
• If involved in a car crash and power lines are knocked down, keep your feet together if jumping out of the vehicle is the only option, and jump with both feet, like a rabbit. If the car is not on fire, stay in the car and call 911.
• Make sure extension cords are the three-prong type, especially if used near and around water. Don't ever remove the third prong, which serves as a grounding path. The grounding path preserves safety in case of a short circuit or other damage to the electrical circuit or appliance.
• Pay attention to where electrical boxes are and leave room around it for any necessary work. Leave at least 10 feet in front of the box clear of obstructions such as trees, shrubs, flowers or fences.
The main messages provided by the three linemen were to simply pay attention, know where power lines are, call for help when needed and let the professionals handle all situations dealing with downed power lines or other electrical issues.