Co-op urges keep children away from substations

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Last Sunday's power outage provided a chance for the City of Luverne to repair a electrical substation that had been damaged when Hurricane Ivan made landfall last September. The power needed to be cut because of the amount of electrical voltage in the substation.

Now, imagine what that same voltage could do if it should come in contact with an adult. Or worse, a small child.

Substations are not 'jungle-gyms' or 'monkey-bars.' Parents should keep a close eye on children to ensure that proper safety precautions are taken around substations. The following comes courtesy of the Alabama Rural Electric Association:

We all know that children love to climb up, on and over things. Fences are particularly inviting. If you haven't talked with your children about the dangers of climbing the fences surrounding electrical substations, then do so soon.

Your electric cooperative has placed signs like 'Danger - Keep Out' or 'Warning - High Voltage' on substation fences for your protection. Make sure your child understands this, too.

If your child is somewhat older, he or she may ask plenty of questions about the dangers involved. If a more detailed answer will help get the message across, here is a simple explanation that should help your child respect a substation fence - and the power of electricity.

An electrical substation changes the extremely high voltage carried by the long-distance transmission lines into the lower distribution voltage that serves homes and businesses. In order to perform this task, the substation needs a direct feed from the transmission line into the substation structure.

The equipment within the substation is always under high voltage electrical load. It is extremely dangerous. Substation technicians, co-op linemen and maintenance crews are trained to work in high-voltage situations and to recognize and avoid potential hazards in the substation.

Just how high is the electric voltage? Some of the pieces of equipment could carry more than 100,000 volts. Contact with that equipment would cause severe burns and a good chance of death.

Remember, substation fences mark the danger zone. You are safe if you stay away from them.