Power line safety is crucial to your health clearwater tbnweekly.com gas and electric phone number

“In your house, it’s 240 volts for your dryer,” Sumner said. “And 120 for your TV. This is over 7,000. So it’s very dangerous because if you get a little shock off of your toaster, off of your microwave, you jump back. If you get in contact with this, I’m afraid that you’re not going to make it.”

The men conducting the demonstration were: Red Flowers, field supervisor out of Eustis; lineman J.W. Bitzer; Roy Mathis, a field supervisor out of Apopka; Leo Simoneau, a lineman out of the Jamestown Operations Center; and Russell Thompson, a lineman out of the Longwood Operations Center.

Flowers narrated the event, explaining each demonstration. One of the most common causes for power outages is animal interference, he said. Squirrels, birds and snakes end up on the poles and touch the wires in the wrong place. All of a sudden, there is an extremely loud noise that sounds like an explosion, and the power goes out. Often people call thinking a transformer blew, but it was just an animal’s last mistake.

The team also used the pole to hold a kite string to the line, showing how it immediately burns up. When a kite string or aluminum balloon gets too close to the line and completes the circuit near the transformer, it sparks but also carries electricity, demonstrated by lighting up a connected street lamp.

One dangerous situation some people may find themselves in is being in a car when a live wire is touching the vehicle. This can happen if a vehicle crashes into a power pole, for instance. The electricity energizes the car and can create a very dangerous situation for first responders or for the occupant of the car if they try to get out.

The team demonstrated this danger by holding a live wire to the back of a toy truck and then touching another wire to it, as if someone were to accidentally touch the outside of the vehicle while it was still energized. Flames leapt from the truck to the second wire.

Mathis said he hates to see these types of situations because they are so dangerous. He said absolutely do not get out of the vehicle because if you touch the outside of the car, it could be energized, and then all those volts will run through your body. If it is absolutely imperative to get out of the car, a slightly safer way to do so is to jump out with both feet, Flowers said – not to put one or both feet outside on the ground while the rest of the body is still inside the car.

Emergency workers and power company workers all wear safety equipment to help protect against electrocution. Some of this equipment includes heavy rubber gloves and boots or cover shoes. When in good repair and worn properly, this can seriously help the outcome if a wire is accidentally touched. The gloves that electric company workers wear are class 2.

The same goes for the required over shoes. However, it is crucial that these are in perfect condition. The demonstration showed no reaction to the live wire when a firefighter’s boot was in good condition. However, one that got a nail in the bottom of it sparked and smoked when touched by a wire. Likewise, just a pinprick in a worker’s glove allowed the electricity through, showing flames when touched to the wire.

Sadly, everyone in the power business seems to know exactly how dangerous these forces are. Just the day before the demonstration, a tree trimmer in Minneola, Fla. was cutting a tree and lost his grip one of the branches, Sumner and Mathis said. He reached out to grab it, even though he knew better, and the branch came in contact with the line. He was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center with severe injuries. Bitzer said that likely the only reason he did not die instantly is that the bucket truck he was in is insulated, and if he was wearing rubber boots.

“What happened was he got blew back and his head landed on a manhole cover and had a piece of wire on his leg and it caught him on fire and they had to take his leg off, and he now has a big chunk of his neck that’s gone,” Bitzer said. “And another guy I worked with is burned beyond all recognition. This stuff is pretty hanky.”

The power system operates in 60 cycles, McGee said. Each second is divided up 60 times, and each of those segments is a cycle, he said. It takes about six cycles, or 1/10th of a second before the safety devices trigger in an electrical arc, he said. But in that time, 7,200 volts can cause serious damage.

“The average temperature is about 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” McGee said. “The gold you wear on your body melts at 1,800 degrees. So what happens is what you see with the hot dog. The voltage enters you and travels internally, so not only do you have the heat, you also have the high voltage, and anybody who makes contact with a live, energized wire is going to have severe, life altering, if not fatal injuries. That’s why we want to make sure that everybody understands how important it is to call if you have a live wire down in your yard or in the road.”

It is also important for people to call before they dig, if they plan on a landscaping project. The power company will come out, tell people where their underground power lines are, and also if they would be planting too close to the power lines. Trees must be at least 12 feet away from the lines, Sumner said, so it is important that people have all the proper information before they start on a project.

If the power goes out, people can call 1-800-228-8485. Also, be prepared before the storm hits. Visit www.progress-energy.com and sign up for the automated outage system. In the case of an outage during a storm, customers can use their mobile devices to report the instance. However, they need their account number to sign up, which is why they should do so before they need the service.