It’s a classic sight gag in the Tom and Jerry/Ren and Stimpy genre of cat and mouse cartons. The cat chases the mouse. The mouse runs into its hole. Cate plunges his paw into muse hole. Fumbles around for mouse. Cat inadvertently grabs a live electrical wire and lights up like a Christmas tree. Gales of laughter fill the room. A singed cat slinks off screen to plot his revenge. More giggles.
But in real life electrical shock is not a laughing matter.
The shocking facts
Upwards of 1,000 people in the U.S. die each year from accidental electrocution. While most of these occur on the job, some of these are the result of household mishaps. Consequently, understanding the highly charged nature of household electricity is important learning for all family members.
From the time a baby learns to crawl, the electrical outlets around the floorboards are a source of constant fascination. That’s why the neighborhood hardware stores stock little plastic inserts to protect our little ones from electric shock. The oly problem is, many toddlers find these plastic caps even more fascinating than the naked outlets. But, it’s significant to note that only 15% of children’s injuries from electric shock are the result of wall outlets. The bigger problem, as it turns out, is electrical extension cords. According to a recent study, 63% of these household injuries involved an electric extension cord.
Extension Cord Do’s and Don’t
To prevent electrical injuries from extension cords, follow these simple tips:
1) If an extension cord is frayed or cut, buy a new one. Faulty extension cords cause more than electric shocks. They cause fires.
2) Make sure that cord’s plug has a grounding pin. Never recome a grounding pin to fit a two prong outlet. This grounding pin is for your protection. Instead, have an electrician replace the outlet.
3) Only use heavy duty extension cords for outside activities.
4) Avoid using extension cords near swimming pools or fountains.
Never touch a power line
When trimming tree branches, avoid coming into contact with live power lines. If you see a power line on the ground, call 911 immediately. They will notify the electric company.
Emergency care for an electric shock
The human body can be an excellent conductor for electrical current. We have all had the experience where we shuffle our feet across carpet, touch a person’s hand and conduct a mild electrical shock. No biggie. However, if someone receives a shock from a high-voltage wire they will require immediate emergency care. The same may be true of major shock from even a low-voltage current. If the victim exhibits numbness, tingling, slurred speech, blurred vision, chest pain, burns, unconsciousness or irregular heartbeat, call 911 immediately.
Electricity is a powerful force. It heats and cools our homes, refrigerates and cooks our food, and, in general, lights up our lives. But it is a force with which to be reckoned. A little caution is always wise. Leave those high-charged electrifying shockers to cartoon characters.