Sunday, September 17, 2006

Geocaching Electrical Safety 2


It’s been great seeing my first article posted on geocaching sites all over North America. I thank all site administrators who posted it for their generosity. It’s also been great seeing all the communication on forums.

There have been many great comments and questions come up on the topic. One question that comes to mind that I really enjoyed from a Vancouver Island, British Columbia geocacher is:“Has anyone visited our cache **** ******* in **** *******? It's a small cache at one of the 4 legs of a tall power tower. Would this be considered a danger? If it is I will archive it right away.
That's a great question. I look at two things when it comes to safety. Probability and Severity.
Probability: What's the chance something's ever going to fail on a tower? Slim to none? Who knows?

Severity: What loss would you receive from an incident occurring at this structure if something failed? NO SECOND CHANCE. In my opinion I would NOT have a cache anywhere around that structure.

Also, the power utilities would never give permission for a game-piece on their electrical supporting structures.

Here's another question that may pop up, “What if I make a fake electrical box cache? That's not dangerous, is it?” My question back is, Do kids know the difference between real and fake boxes/equipment? Do adults know the difference? If a kid was taken to a number of fake electrical box caches with parents and the next time, being alone, came across a real, open vandalized electrical box would he/she know to walk away from the immediate danger? In my opinion kids wouldn’t know the difference and the last thing I'd want is my kid(s) getting used-to or being comfortable playing around this equipment.

**Here's an example of what's out there (I took this from a geocache log that I came across), "... Container is an electrical box (no power) mounted on the side of my building. All Employees are aware of box so this should be a muggle free zone...

I hope kids OR adults are not trying to find caches by opening up any electrical box covers. Again, do kids know the difference between real and fake? I've seen electrical box caches that look like real live electrical equipment. That scares me. This is coming from a guy who investigates power line contacts and has seen the first hand results of electricity.

-Do I know of any kids getting killed by electricity when "Geocaching" around electrical equipment? No.

-Do I know of any kids getting killed by electricity when just "playing" around electrical equipment? Yes.
There are a lot of examples out there on the web. Here’s one very sad incident: ( link ) It doesn't matter if an electrical box, pole, conduit, wire, etc is at a potential of 120 or 8000 volts, if you’re in the path of electricity when it’s trying to go to ground and about 1 amp passes through your ticker you're done. It's amps that kill, not voltage. Amp (ampere)= amount of electrons flowing through a conductor. Voltage= what’s "pushing" those electrons through the conductor.

In my opinion there are so many other places we can hide our caches. Let's get in the habit of not hiding them on and around electrical equipment.
Thank you for listening,