Five years ago this month, I used this column to share the circumstances that led to a tragic electrical contact in the days leading up to the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. My message was to beware of and be aware around electricity.
My message this month: beware and be aware.
Last week, in the days leading up to the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, a 19-year old man was electrocuted. He was part of a construction team erecting a new structure, and was on the ground securing a large steel roof truss as the forklift operator prepared to position it. The truss came into contact with our primary line, shooting electrical current through his body. His co-workers quickly sprang into action, joined in short order by emergency responders, but they were unable to revive him.
My heart aches for the family and the co-workers who witnessed this event. The grim memories will undoubtedly haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Beware and be aware.
This is another tragic example of the very real danger of the infrastructure that exists all around us. Poles and wires are such a prevalent part of our everyday landscape that we don’t necessarily even see them. It’s like the artwork hanging on your living room wall. It’s always there, but rarely noticed.
Most of us have experienced the sting of small electrical jolts around the house, and that becomes our frame of reference for the danger of electricity. But even regular household current can cause serious injury or death. A child playing near an uncovered wall outlet, or any combination of water and electricity are both everyday recipes for household tragedy. Electricity is dangerous.
We’re less mindful about the dangers that lurk outside the walls of our homes, and that’s the higher-voltage current. Power lines criss-cross the yards, farms and neighborhoods that span the vast landscape of our communities, and for the most part we are oblivious to their very existence. Beware of the danger, and be aware of what’s around you, both overhead and underground. Electricity is dangerous and anything that comes in contact with power lines can create a direct path for electricity.
Picture a homeowner positioning an extension ladder to clean leaves from the gutter, or a child reaching out from the branches of a favorite tree to retrieve a kite, or a farmer transporting machinery to the field.
Picture a young man securing a steel truss.
These are not uncommon sites or circumstances, but each can quickly turn deadly if those involved do not take the time to look up, down and around.
Electricity provides comfort and convenience. It lights our way, cools our homes, entertains our senses and powers our communications. It’s literally all around us and an integral part of life and living. But it’s also dangerous.
Beware and be aware.