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Questions and Answers About Electric Safety

How do utility workers repair power lines without getting hurt?

Utility workers, or line mechanics, wear special gear and use special equipment to stay safe around energized power lines.

Why don’t birds get shocked when they sit on power lines?

Birds don't get electrocuted when they land on a power line because they are only touching one of the wires. If they were to touch two (or more) of the wires at the same time they WOULD get electrocuted.

Why is it important to stay away from substations?

If there’s a substation in your neighborhood, it’s important to steer clear. There’s a lot of high-voltage electricity inside – and you don't even have to touch anything inside to get hurt.

What should I do if a ball or toy gets inside a substation?

If you accidentally throw a ball or toy over a substation fence, never ever try to climb the fence to get it yourself. Ask a grown-up to call the electric company, and we'll be happy to get it for you.

How do I know if electrical equipment is dangerous?

To play it safe, make sure you know what the warning signs mean. "DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE" means there's dangerous electricity inside.

You might see a sign with a character called Mr. Ouch - when you see Mr. Ouch, it means stay away.

Why do some electrical outlets and plugs have a “test” button?

They're called ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs. These special outlets and plugs monitor the flow of electricity through the outlet's circuit.

You probably have a GFCI outlet near the sink in your bathroom. If your hair dryer accidentally fell into a sink full of water, the GFCI will sense that something is wrong and automatically shut off the power.

But remember that even special safety features like GFCIs can’t stop all accidents – so always follow the rules of electrical safety!

Test your safety smarts!

Now that you’re done reading the rules, try these fun games to test your safety smarts:

Indoor electrical safety

Outdoor electrical safety

Line mechanic safety


Fun stuff to print:

Do an Energy Safety Survey [PDF]

Alliant Energy Kids activity book [PDF]