Using a display with live power lines, Tucson Electric Power employees regularly give demonstrations about how to stay safe around electrical equipment.
TEP has been giving free electrical safety presentations at schools, science fairs and other community events for nearly two decades to teach customers and their children about the dangers of power lines and poles and electrical devices at home.
Presenters provide tips on what to do if a power line falls on your car or if your electrical box gets damaged.
“It’s very important that we get the message out about staying safe around our equipment,” said Richard Maldonado, a Quality Review Coordinator who trains volunteers to give the presentations. “It’s better to educate than to mitigate.”
Employees make more than 50 school presentations each year, reaching about 1,500 students, mostly fourth and fifth graders. In addition, employees have visited 11 other events throughout the community since last fall.
The electrical safety presentations are mostly given by linemen, who know firsthand the risks of dealing with live electrical equipment.
In groups of two or three, they teach using a miniature village complete with power lines, a house, trees, a jeep and action figures. The board has a built-in electric line that can be turned on to zap the action figures, cars and trees, making a buzzing sound and lighting up to show the dangers.
During a recent presentation at La Paloma Academy in Tucson, Jacob Urquijo and Jesse Ortega told real-life stories of children who were by climbing on an electric box and up a power pole onto a line.
“We tell you these stories not to scare you, but for your safety,” Ortega said.
If a power line falls on a car, Jesse said, it’s important to stay in the car, which is protected by rubber tires. If the car is on fire, he demonstrated how to jump out with two feet together, then shuffle feet to move away from flames.
“In storm season, your mom and dad might want to jump out of the car. You can tell them what to do,” Ortega said.
The program is free for schools and others who request it. Teachers receive booklets to help them prepare students for the lesson.
To request a presentation, go to tep.com/electrical-safety-presentations/ and fill out an application.