Walton EMC’s Brad Adcock demonstrates how using a meter is the only way to determine if an electric line is energized.
Small display, big point
Co-op’s safety demonstration delivers important message
Brad Adcock is on a mission — and he’s taking along a few hot dogs to help him make his point.
While your mind might immediately go to the grill — barbeque season is almost here — Brad’s message is one of safety. The hot dogs help him deliver a serious message: You don’t ever want to make contact with a power line.
May is National Electrical Safety Month
Brad is Walton EMC’s director of safety and training. He’s the standard bearer for the cooperative’s commitment to safety for its employees, customer-owners and the general public. He’s especially busy during May, which is National Electrical Safety Month.
“Electrocution is the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States,” Brad reminds. “More than 700 people lose their lives every year because of accidents associated with electricity and electrical products.”
Live, from Walton EMC
For the last three years, Brad has been taking his safety message on the road. With him goes a trailer equipped with a model electrical distribution system, including poles, wires and transformer.
Teaming with Walton EMC journeyman linemen, he performs demonstrations with live electrical power to educate the public about what happens when things and people come in contact with an energized power line. The rig, which was built by Walton EMC employees, helps him convey the message that even though power lines bring the convenience of electricity to our homes, they can also cause injury or death.
A hot dog helps him make that very important point.
“When it’s touched to a live line, the hot dog is instantly zapped — the same thing that would happen to a human who comes in contact with a live line.”
“A hot dog is made of meat, fat and water, so it’s a good representation of the human body,” Brad says, explaining why a stop at a grocery store occurs before a safety demonstration. “When it’s touched to a live line, the hot dog is instantly zapped — the same thing that would happen to a human who comes in contact with a live line.”
Many of the demonstrations are geared to emergency responders and farmers — those who are often at greatest risk of coming into contact with power lines.
“I want them to see what happens when their equipment, or even a tree branch or mylar balloon, comes into contact with a live line,” he said. “In general, people don’t realize how many things can be conductors of electricity.”
Though a rainy day forced the safety program inside, a group of visiting electric cooperative employees paid close attention as Walton EMC employees demonstrated the consequences of unsafe practices near energized power lines.
No matter what group he’s addressing, the same fact seems to surprise them all, Brad says.
“They are shocked to learn you can’t know if a line is energized just by looking at it,” he shares. “You can’t see or hear when a line is energized. You need to put a meter on it to tell.”
The Walton EMC employee stresses this fact to remind that any power line, whether in its normal position or downed during a storm, has the potential to be lethal. Persons without the correct protective gear and professional training should always stay clear of power lines.
Generators, which some consumers use to supply temporary power during a prolonged outage, are another topic Brad addresses. The demonstration trailer is powered by a generator, which he uses to emphasize the need for safe practices to protect both consumers and the linemen working to restore their power.
“We show them what can happen to a Walton EMC lineman when a home has an incorrectly installed generator,” he says.
Visit Power Town
Brad isn’t the only Walton EMC employee who is making the rounds to share an electrical safety message. Jennifer Broun, Walton EMC’s community and youth representative, gives a fun and interactive demonstration using a display called Power Town.
Audiences of all ages can learn more about how to prevent dangerous electrical situations by viewing this display that uses live electricity to depict what can happen when safety is ignored.
“We all know we are not supposed to fly kites around power lines, but many people don't realize how dangerous a downed power line can be,” Jennifer reminds.
Schedule a demonstration
Walton EMC’s safety demonstrations for groups are free. Presenters will travel to any location within Walton EMC’s service area.
Live line demonstrations are available on a limited basis. For details, contact Brad Adcock at 770-266-2343 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Power Town is appropriate for all ages, from PreK students to adults. To book a demonstration, email Jennifer Broun at email@example.com. She is already taking requests for the 2020-2021 school year.