Powerful Demonstration Shows Dangers of Electricity
Posted August 9, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
DURHAM — Hurricanes bring power lines down and generators out of storage. As hurricane season heats up, safety experts want to spread the word about staying safe around electricity.
Everyone knows to stay away from downed power lines. They may look harmless, but touch one, and it ignites to 11,000 degrees in one-sixth of a second.
"It looks harmless. You walk up, touch it, you create that path to the ground. It could kill you, it could injure you," saysDuke Power'sMike Boyles.
You can get electrocuted even if the power is out in your neighborhood.
Thousands of Triangle residents rushed out to buy generators afterHurricane Franleft them in the dark. Generators provide power to your home, but they can also create a dangerous situation called backfeed.
"If [a generator] is not installed properly, it can backfeed back through the transformer and elevate the voltage to our primary voltages," says Scott Gardner of Duke Power.
That means a cable that you think is dead might actually be charged with thousands of volts of electricity.
To be safe, have generators installed by a licensed contractor who knows the proper and safest way to do so.
"Electricity is a very good product," Boyles says. "But if you do no treat it right, it can take you away from this world in an instant."
Keep in mind that for every cable you see above ground, there is an equally powerful buried line. Always call the utility company before you do any digging.