Though they deliver electricity to homes, power lines pack a deadly force.
That fact is lost in anew kid's movie that came out this last week, Like Mike. The movie traces the story of a boy who acquires National Basketball Association quality basketball skills after rescuing a pair of shoes from a power line during a lightning storm.
While the movie no doubt intends to entertain, its message - if taken to heart, could also kill. Statistics aren't available on children, but each year in the United States 400 people are killed on the job by electrical contact and many others are injured. There are also countless other close calls averted only because someone remembered a basic rule.
Never touch a line and never touch anything that it's touching.
Think it couldn't happen because of a movie? The movie was brought to my attention by a Pacific Power employee whose son said he wanted to join the NBA and might be able to if only he could get some shoes off a power line. The youngster, whose name also is Michael, had seen the movies promotional advertisement and, with all the seriousness the six-year-old could muster, he said he might just have a shot at the big time.
The boy's dad took that as an opportunity for a long conversation about the difference between movies and reality and about the deadly nature of electricity. I'm relieved to know that the boy had someone to talk to about the movie and that his dad was knowledgeable about the serious danger of making any contact with power lines.
But what about other kids who see the movie? What about the ones who don't ask but are tempted to try out what they've seen next time they come near a power line?
As a provider of electrical service, we have a responsibility to help keep the public safe. It's a responsibility we take seriously by providing curriculum to schools, advertising, conducting training for emergency workers and contractors, including safety tips in publications wherever we can as well as making presentations to schoolchildren and the public at large.
As parents, grandparents and caregivers, we have a responsibility to know what children are watching and to take the time to be sure they know how to be safe around electrical lines and equipment.
Here are some important safety tips for children, and in fact everyone who comes in contact with power lines of any kind.
Everyone should assume all lines are energized and carrying electricity.
People should never climb a power pole or other electrical equipment.
Look up and stay aware of the location of overhead power lines to avoid making contact with them.
Check trees for overhead wires running near or through limbs and branches before doing any climbing. If lines are present, do not climb the tree for any reason.
If you see others climbing or playing around power equipment urge them to move away.
Keep all kites and other objects away from power lines. If a kite does become tangled in wires, make no attempt to remove it.
Michael and his dad are planning to see Like Mike, and they're hopeful it's as entertaining as the trailers have been.
But they'll also be talking to friends and family about electrical safety too.