Jump to content
BC Boards

Electric Shock!


Recommended Posts

So, today was a slightly scary day! I took Daisy to play at the park like I do every day. As we were walking down one of the paths, Daisy began to sniff the dirt around a wood pole street lamp when all of a sudden she let out a yelp! It startled me and I briefly looked around the area thinking she got stung or bitten by something. I decided to take a closer look with Daisy removed from the area. So I tied her to a nearby park bench and went over to inspect the area. I saw nothing on the ground and for a split second a silly thought crossed my mind, could there be an electrical short or something? Then I thought no way couldn't be! This park is maintained every day. So I decided something must have startled her or bitten her (as most of you know, Daisy is often scared of just about everything) so I decided to bring her back over and show her that everything is ok. So we went back over to the area and this time she made direct contact with the pole and yelped again but louder! I thought holy moly! My wildest thought was right she got shocked. I rushed her out of the park got in the car and took her to the vet. The vet checked her out and luckily she did not show any symptoms that are typical for electrical shock. She did now show any signs of swelling of the area and burn marks in the nose or mouth. No entry or exit marks. Thank god! They said she would probably sleep a lot since she got stressed out and for the most part, that is exactly what she is doing.

 

I felt so stupid and awful for making Daisy go back the second time, but at the same time the vet understood why I did it (she also knows that Daisy is just so skittish).

 

Anyway, maybe I am really stupid for posting this because it probably makes me look like an idiot, but I wanted to let everyone know to keep your dogs away from anything that could possibly have an electrical current in or near the area as you just don't know if there could be a short. And that includes street lamps!

 

Man I feel so stupid, but at the same time this is the absolute last thing I would ever think of!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes! As I took Daisy to the vet, my dad called the city. And get this, the person my dad spoke to said, "Oh. I think that is PG&E's responsibility. We will contact them." What? My dad was shocked by their nonchalant attitude! They should have said we will get out there right away! We drove by after we picked my mom up from work and no one was there checking it out. And kids have baseball, soccer, football practices in that area all the time. All it takes is for a ball to land in that area and a hand to pick it up....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nonchalant attitude? Do you live in San Diego? The excuse-making capital of the USA, in my opinion.

 

Anyhow, I remembered reading a while ago about electric shocks from street lights, manhole covers, etc., in the NY Times (which I still get daily even though I've lived here for 12 years!). It's caused by "stray voltage," which sounds like what you and your Daisy ran into. Evidently, it's not awfully common, but it does happen and it can be quite dangerous.

 

Check out this story from the New York Times in 2006:

 

Con Ed Finds 1,214 Stray Voltage Sites in One Year

 

By SEWELL CHAN

Published: March 4, 2006

 

Consolidated Edison, responding to testing requirements imposed after a woman was electrocuted while walking her dog in the East Village in 2004, found 1,214 instances of stray voltage during a yearlong examination of electrical equipment on city streets, officials disclosed at a City Council hearing yesterday.

 

The stray voltage was detected from December 2004 through November 2005 on 1,083 streetlights, 99 utility poles and 32 power-distribution structures like manholes, service boxes and transformer vaults, according to test results submitted to the state's Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.

 

In total, 728,789 pieces of equipment were tested.

 

The tests were required under state rules adopted in January 2005, a year after the woman, Jodie S. Lane, 30, a Columbia University graduate student, was killed when she stepped on a metal plate.

 

John F. Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison, said the company expected to spend $100 million this year toward reducing the risk of stray voltage. "While there is always some risk involved in delivering energy, we work diligently to do it as safely as humanly possible," he said at the hearing.

 

Despite those efforts, a series of recent mishaps have highlighted the risks of stray voltage in the city.

 

On Feb. 12, four people were shocked, and two of them were hospitalized, after a frayed cable energized the cover of a service box near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Five days later, a dog was electrocuted on a patch of concrete in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Con Ed had continued to supply electricity to a nonexistent streetlight. "My family dog is dead, and it could have been me or my 1-year-old son if we'd slipped and touched that same spot," the dog's owner, Danny Kapilian, 49, said during the hearing.

 

On Thursday afternoon, a 9-year-old boy was briefly hospitalized after he reported an electric jolt while walking over a metal plate at West 127th Street and Lenox Avenue, in Harlem.

 

Stray voltage was detected in an underground device four feet below the spot where the boy reported the shock, but not on the metal plate itself, Mr. Miksad said. He said that utility workers arrived at the scene within 20 minutes but noted that stray voltage is often intermittent.

 

"As far as we know the surface where that boy walked was safe when we got there," Mr. Miksad testified. "I can't say two minutes before, or an hour, if there was stray voltage."

 

Several lawmakers said that Con Ed's efforts to detect stray voltage, while laudable, were inadequate. "It's 2006, and New Yorkers should not be afraid to walk on sidewalks and streets for fear of being shocked by an electric current," said Councilman John C. Liu, a Queens Democrat who is chairman of the Transportation Committee, which held the hearing.

 

Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., who championed a 2004 law that required the city's Department of Transportation to check at least 250 randomly selected sites for stray voltage every year, said the Public Service Commission should conduct independent tests beyond those of Con Ed and the city agency.

 

"As representatives of people who have to walk through minefields of stray voltage and exploding manhole covers, we believe you have completely abdicated your responsibility," Mr. Vallone told Paul B. Powers, the executive deputy to the commission's chairman. Mr. Powers replied that the commission, a regulatory and rate-setting body, did not have the resources to conduct extensive stray-voltage tests.

 

Later, Mr. Vallone, a Queens Democrat, accused Con Ed of being slow to act. "Your slogan needs to change from 'On It' to 'Don't Step on It,' " he quipped.

 

In addition to the almost 730,000 tests conducted last year, Con Ed also conducted more than 150,000 tests for stray voltage during its routine utility work, Mr. Miksad said.

 

By April, the utility will acquire five vehicle-mounted stray-voltage detection machines linked to video cameras. The machines will reduce, from three months to about a week, the time it takes Con Ed to survey Manhattan for stray voltage after a snowstorm, "when the issue of stray voltage is most acute," Mr. Miksad said.

 

In its efforts to track and eliminate stray voltage, Con Ed has assigned identification numbers, bar codes and satellite coordinates to all 172,000 poles holding streetlights and traffic signals. And the company has switched to using dual-jacket rubber cables, which are more durable and more resistant to nicks and scratches than older single-layer cables.

 

At the hearing, state and city officials also described an array of efforts to reduce stray voltage. Con Ed and the city are installing 5,000 isolation transformers, devices that prevent current from flowing through a streetlight if the wiring to the light fails.

 

The city began to coat 160,000 streetlights with a nonconductive, insulating paint in November and is scheduled to complete the work by May 2007. The city will also replace 149,000 "cobra head" light fixtures by 2008; the new fixtures will be more energy-efficient and contain light-emitting diodes, which will alert workers to the potential presence of stray voltage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nonchalant attitude? Do you live in San Diego? The excuse-making capital of the USA, in my opinion.

 

Anyhow, I remembered reading a while ago about electric shocks from street lights, manhole covers, etc., in the NY Times (which I still get daily even though I've lived here for 12 years!). It's caused by "stray voltage," which sounds like what you and your Daisy ran into. Evidently, it's not awfully common, but it does happen and it can be quite dangerous.

 

Check out this story from the New York Times in 2006:

 

I live in the Northern part of the Bay Area and I guess the excuse-making has traveled up here!

 

My god! I am going to be too scared to go outside anymore! How far away do I have to stay away from these things to not be affected by possible stray voltage.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Daisyandme,

You said the electric pole was wood, and wood is not considered to be a good conductor of electricity, so I'd be skeptical of an electric shock being recieved from touching a wooden light pole, unless the pole was soaking wet or something (because water is a good conductor) or the part touched was actually an electric wire attached to the pole (which might have had a break in the insulation). Did you touch the pole yourself? I think I would have to have done so just to check. I'm not trying to minimize your experience, but the scientist in me says that it's unlikely a wooden pole would cause an electric shock.

 

The story Jan posted makes more sense to me because the items carrying the stray voltage are metal (manhole cover and metal light poles).

 

J.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You said the electric pole was wood, and wood is not considered to be a good conductor of electricity, so I'd be skeptical of an electric shock being recieved from touching a wooden light pole, unless the pole was soaking wet or something (because water is a good conductor) or the part touched was actually an electric wire attached to the pole (which might have had a break in the insulation).

If the ground and or pole was moist, it could well have been enough to give just enough of a tingle to cause a dog to yelp, but, thankfully, not anywhere enough current to cause a burn. This sort of ground leakage is quite common.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I imagine that "damp" would do it. In the story that I had remembered from the NY Times -- "Five days later, a dog was electrocuted on a patch of concrete in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Con Ed had continued to supply electricity to a nonexistent streetlight." If you think you're feeling an electrical shock, back off! You probably are.

 

ETA -- I just read the Toronto Star story at Scomona's link, and again dogs being walked were the victims of the shocks from stray voltage. Must be due to their constant nosing around? I can't imagine how horrifying it would be to have your dog killed in front of you while just out on a walk, like the dog in Park Slope or the poor labradoodle in the Star story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd heard about the manhole cover issue in NY when we were visiting my SIL over Thanksgiving. She warned me not to allow Duncan to step on any manhole covers.

 

We had a tragic incident a few years ago in Baltimore when a girl was killed leaning against a metal fence at a softball game:

 

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=787951

 

But the combination of circumstances in that case would seem unusual.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Julie,

 

There was a small metal box like face plate at the base area of the pole and that was the area Daisy made contact with the second time. All light poles around here wood or metal have those boxes on them. The ground was also still damp because it has been raining a lot in the last month and it had just rained again two days before in the area she reacted the fist time. Not standing water or anything, but enough to make footprints and to be obvious the the ground had still not dried out. There was also a pop up sprinkler head not far from the pole, maybe two steps from the pole which I don't know if the metal in that reacted to the electricity. The sprinkler head was also in the area where she reacted the first time.

 

edit: Oh I forgot to mention that one of the vet techs also had a similar situation where her dog actually urinated on the metal box part of the pole (it was also wood) and the electricity went up through the dog that way. He survived but had more damage than Daisy. She said the area around the metal face plate ended up with burn marks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having had an actual electric shock myself, from a malfunctioning lamp cord, I can sympathize! It hurts! My dogs have been zapped by the hotwire livestock fence, but that's a fairly mild pulse; nothing like a "shock". Don't feel bad- who expects a lamppost to shock them?!

 

I got zapped by a refrigerator at work last summer! The insulation on a wire had worn through, electrifying the bottom plate of the fridge. It was quite a surprise... I'm pretty sure I yelped!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...