This week, a tragic accident unfolded in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles. Following a single vehicle traffic accident, people began gathering to many wanted to render aid. An SUV, with a single occupant failed to negotiate a turn and ended up on the lawn of a residence, after having severed both a light standard and a fire hydrant.
Water spewed into the air, and unknown to the people rushing to help, the severed light standard’s electrical wires remained energized, and in turn energized the water with up to 4,800 volts of electricity. One woman, stepping from her car, rushed to help and stepped into the energized water. She was electrocuted.
After she was fatally injured, other people touched her, or the water, and were also injured. One other woman died as a result. Multiple patients were hospitalized, some in critical condition.
While this accident is a freakish and unusual event, it raises two very important points:
- Always look around, particularly in a hectic or emergency situation and know what’s taking place. This is called situational awareness. It could save your life, or the life of someone else.
- Learn about electricity and how dangerous it can be. We often take electricity for granted, and while it is all around us throughout the day and evening, there are circumstances where it may create a risk for you or those you love. Hundreds of people are killed by electrocution in the U.S. every year needlessly. Don’t be one of them.
Kids – here are the top ten things you should know about electrical safety.
- DON’T plug a bunch of electrical chords into one outlet using either an expanded outlet adapter or an extension cord. Overloading the system could cause a fire.
- Tuck electrical chords away, wherever possible. People can trip, and pets may chew, with neither resulting in a happy outcome.
- Don’t yank or pull hard on an electrical chord. You might damage the outlet, or worse, accidentally come into contact with energized pins or exposed chord elements.
- Ask an adult for assistance whenever using electrical components. If you’re uncertain, get adult advice.
- Always look for power lines before climbing a tree. Climbing up is fun. Falling after touching electrical wires is not.
- Remind mom and dad to look out for power lines when they’re working outside your home or apartment. It’s easy to think they’re harmless, but they’re not.
- Water is a perfect conduit for electricity. Keep electrically charged objects away from water. Don’t watch TV in the tub, or dry your hair while in the water. Don’t let electric objects near your swimming pool.
- Never climb up the towers that hold high intensity electrical wires. That includes the telephone poles near your home or apartment.
- Make certain unused electrical outlets in your home have a “plug” or “cap” on them to prevent accidents from occurring.
- If someone is accidentally electrocuted, dial 911 immediately and DO NOT APPROACH OR TOUCH THEM. They may be conducting electricity themselves, and you may become a shock victim yourself.
Read more about this tragic incident at the LAFD Blog.
Learn more about electrical safety in the home from the NFPA.
Learn more about electrocution statistics.