The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is warning parents and children about the dangers of utility lines in light of a potentially dangerous message that could be sent through movie theaters this summer. Children are warned to stay away from power poles, power lines and electrical substations.
The Foundation is particularly concerned about one scene in the recent 20th Century Fox box-office hit "Like Mike," shows a young boy, portrayed by popular rap star Lil Bow Wow, climbing a tree during a storm to retrieve sneakers dangling from a power line. Lightning strikes knock the boy to the ground. The high-voltage electric shock that travels through the line and the shoes not only leaves him unhurt, but also gives him super-human athletic ability allowing him to play basketball like NBA superstar Michael Jordan.
"Super human powers are not gained by contacting power lines," said Michael Clendenin, ESFI executive director. "In fact, someone doing so is likely to get much more than a mild shock. We need kids to understand that even coming in close proximity to these lines could prove fatal."
It takes only 10 to 40 milliamps for serious injury and even death to occur. Utility power lines can carry thousands of volts, nearly ensuring death to the victim. For this reason, electric company power lines, substations, transformers and other electrical equipment should only be handled with the utmost care by trained professionals with the appropriate personal protection equipment.
"People are sometimes lulled into believing power lines are insulated and safe to contact when they see birds landing safely on wires and this movie adds to that misconception,” Clendenin said. But the birds do not represent a path for the electric current to go from the line to ground. The combination of sneakers, child and tree, as shown in this movie, do."
The ESFI implores people to stay away from power lines and utility equipment. If something needs to be retrieved from a power line, the utility company should be contacted immediately.
These and other electrical safety tips are available at the Foundation's Web site at http://www.electrical-safety.org or by phone at 703-841-3229.