You Asked, We Answer: Electrical Safety for Kids

Electricity is a part of our day-to-day lives. And while it powers our devices and appliances and keeps our lights on, it can also be dangerous—especially for kids.

Our Grade 6 electrical safety program is all about arming students with the knowledge they need to stay safe around electrical equipment.

This week, as part of our You Asked, We Answer series, we chatted with Senior Engineer, Yvon LeFort, who leads our Grade 6 Electrical Safety program. We asked Yvon to share some of the top questions about electricity he hears from kids, along with some important electrical safety tips.

How are birds able to sit on power lines? Isn’t that unsafe?

Electricity is always looking for a path to the ground. Birds can sit on power lines without getting hurt because they’re only sitting on one wire at a time. That wire doesn’t touch the ground and is connected to the power pole by a piece of equipment that is insulated.

Because the bird isn’t touching anything that’s in contact with the ground, electricity has no path to travel through, and it will stay in the power line.

Is the type of electricity in power lines the same as lightning?

Lightning and the electricity we generate are somewhat alike; but there is one important difference. Lightning is a very powerful and dangerous release of electrical energy that we have no control over. The amount of electrical energy that we produce is controlled, allowing you to use it safely at home or at work.

What’s the best way to stay safe if you’re outside during a lightning storm?

If you find yourself outside during a storm, look for shelter as soon as possible. It’s very dangerous to be out swimming, in a boat, or out in a large open area during a lightning storm.

Remember that electricity is always looking for an easy way to reach ground. If you’re the tallest object in the water, or in a big open area, you could be the path electricity takes to reach the ground. Be sure to stay away from large trees or poles, and if you’re in a big field, or an open area, keep low to the ground in a crouched position (do not lie flat) until the storm is over.

What are the big yellow plastic covers on wires close to the ground? Are they dangerous?

Those yellow covers are a piece of safety equipment. The covers you see that are close to the ground are attached to what we call ‘guy wires’ and they’re mainly there to make the wire more visible so that people, cars and other vehicles don’t bump into them. The wires they’re covering are not energized—which means there is no electricity flowing through them. However, to be safe, we recommend you don’t touch or climb on them so they don’t become loose or damaged—that could impact the safety of the pole it is attached to.

What are some of the other ways kids can stay safe around electricity?

Here are a few important electrical safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Never use anything with a cord or plug around water.
  • Never stick anything metal into a toaster.
  • Don’t overload a power outlet. Use a power bar when more plugs are needed.
  • Don’t touch or climb trees that are near powerlines.
  • Never fly kites near power lines.
  • Stay at least a school bus length away from broken or fallen power lines.
  • Do not play or climb on power poles or other power equipment.
  • Always let an adult know about any damage to electrical equipment.

For more electrical safety information, including educational videos for teachers and kids, check out our Grade 6 Electrical Safety Program.

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