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Polo students learn about the dangers of electricity

Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 3:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012 3:31 p.m. CDT
Caption
Kyle Finley demonstrates a fire that could be caused if electrical wires and equipment are touched. Photo by Chris Johnson
Caption
Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn and Polo student Natalie Faivre participate in a demonstration during the program Kyle Finley was giving at the Polo High School March 21. Finley was talking about what to do if a car you are driving strikes a utility pole. Photo by Chris Johnson

Electricity is used every day but many people do not think about potential dangers of electricity.

Students at the Polo High School learned March 21 about some of the dangers during a Live Line Demo presented by Kyle Finley, Alvin.

“Fourteen years ago I quit my job as a lineman and began these safety demonstrations,” Finley said. “We need to educate everyone about electric safety.”

Finley asked the high school students if they knew the voltage in a standard electrical outlet in their home.

Only 15 students raised their hand to answer and the first one did not get the answer correct.

“The number one killer from electricity is your 120 volt wall outlet,” said Finley. “There have been numerous safety upgrades to outlets, but your home may not have them.”

Ground fault interrupter outlets will trip if the device plugged in gets wet.  These outlets are required in bathrooms and near kitchen sinks.

Another type of outlet has built-in covers to make it harder for a child to accidentally put a finger, key, or toy in the socket.

Finley said the cost of these outlets are minimal considering they could save the life of someone the students know.

There are also extension drop cords with built in ground fault interrupters that available.

He also warned students about the dangers of electrical substations and warning signs.

“Don’t ever go into a substation. They are dangerous. Just raising your arm inside one could cause an electrocution,” said Finley. “The police and fire departments know to call the power company if they need to get inside. If you lose a football or a frisbee inside a substation, call the power company and they will retrieve it for you.”

There are warning signs posted on not only substations but other electric equipment including breaker boxes.

“If you see a warning sign or tag, never go near the equipment,” said Finley. “Another safety thing is to never stand in front of a breaker before turning it on.”

This is done to prevent facial injuries if something were to fail in the box and cause a fire, he said.

Electricity is also a concern for drivers.

“Never drive over a downed power line,” said Finley. “If you get in an accident and strike a utility pole, stay in your vehicle.”

Finley encouraged students to inform the police when calling in an accident to let them know if a utility pole was hit so the power company can be called.

“The police officers and fire department are trained for electricity safety,” said Finley.

Another concern with electricity involves farm equipment and dump trucks.

“You could be driving your tractor and clear the power line, but then you open your wing and hit a line,” said Finley. “Crane operators and dump trucks can also hit a power line.”

The electric demonstration was sponsored by Holland and Sons, Birkeys, Polo Coop, Burkardt’s LP, and Rock River Energy.

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