Protecting the public from unsafe contact with our electrical equipment is a challenge and we are always looking for better ways to get important information to our customers and to the public. As an industry, we continue to be concerned with the number of people from the public who come into contact with power lines and equipment. Those at risk range from billboard installers and highway construction workers to homeowners doing home improvements and thieves who steal from substations and other equipment. Our industry is actively engaged in educating the public about the danger of coming into contact with live electrical equipment and promoting how to safely work around facilities.
Capitalizing on their popularity, we use our social media platforms to educate our customers about electrical safety. We instituted “Safety Saturdays” in which our posts and tweets focused on different public safety topics throughout the year. Public safety communications themes included: “Call Before You Dig,” Overhead Power Line Safety, Electricity 101, Copper Theft and Downed Power Line Safety. The most popular media post in 2014 was focused on “What’s on a Power Pole?” It details all the equipment on the pole and the function of each piece of equipment.
Each May, we send customers an email as part of National Electrical Safety Month. We use this opportunity to promote our free public safety resources, such as videos, an interactive electrical safety module and numerous factsheets.
Despite our efforts, we experienced 16 public fatalities in 2014. Nine were the result of vehicles crashing into utility poles, six were caused by contact with our electrical facilities and one resulted from attempted copper theft.
Educating students and teachers about electricity and electrical safety is an important priority. In August 2014, AEP launched a new and improved AEP Electric Universe®, an educational website targeting K-12 students and teachers. The modern, animated site is now easier to navigate. It includes online games, videos, downloadable activities for students, lesson plans, experiments, a reference section and a glossary for educators and other adults interested in teaching kids about electricity and electrical safety.