Town Talk: Keep kids safe as they head outdoors
When temperatures begin to rise, outdoor areas begin to fill with both children and adults enjoying the weather. It is easy for the electrical equipment that we see every day to fade into the background, but it is important to always take safety precautions around it. Take time to explain to your kids how to be safe around electricity before they head outdoors.
New Ulm Public Utilities provides the following tips to share with kids when having a conversation about how to stay safe around outdoor electrical equipment.
• Always stress the importance of safety around electrical substations. Never enter an electrical substation for any reason. Even if a pet has entered inside or a ball goes over the fence, do not go in. Call the electrical utility for help. Substations should only be entered by professionals.
• Kites should only be flown during good weather conditions and in large, open areas like a park or a field. Always look up and check for the location of overhead power lines and other electrical equipment, so that you can be sure to fly kites far away from them. A kite string can conduct electricity from an overhead line directly to the person on the ground.
• Before climbing a tree, check that the tree and its branches are not located near any overhead power lines. Climbing a tree in contact with a power line can energize the tree with electricity and lead to electric shock or death.
• Never throw objects at power lines.
• If you ever see downed electrical wires, stay far away. Call 911 to have the utility notified. Downed lines do not have to be arcing or sparking to be carrying electricity and be dangerous.
• Do not play with, tamper with, or open outdoor electrical boxes. They contain electrical equipment for underground service to homes and businesses.
• Check the forecast before going outside. Do not plan outdoor activities if a thunderstorm is expected because there is no safe place from lightning when you are outside. It is important to follow the advice of the National Weather Service, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
There are also steps parents and caregivers can take to help ensure safe outdoor play.
• Make sure all outdoor outlets are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to help prevent electric shock.
• Keep all long-handled tools out of reach of children so they will not be tempted to reach for or accidentally hit an overhead power line.
• Pay attention to trees and power lines. Do not plant trees near them, and if there is a tree that has grown into a power line, make sure to call a professional to trim the tree.
Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.