Students learn power line safety

By Kelly McCarthy

April 29, 2013 Updated Apr 30, 2013 at 9:53 AM EDT

Oneonta, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Coming into contact with power lines or other electrical equipment can be a deadly mistake. Elementary students learned Monday why it's so important to stay away.

NYSEG's power safety demonstrations show local kids how dangerous downed power lines really are.

The live line demonstration showed what happens when things go wrong and the power goes out.

"We're not trying to scare them," said NYSEG Chief Lineman Kevin Maddalone. "But we want them to understand that it isn't good, and these are things that are out of the normal."

NYSEG crews told students there's no way of knowing if a power line is charged with electricity, and as a result, they should always stay away from them.

"It travels through water, it travels through dirt and it's not sparking like it is on TV," Maddalone said. "So you just don't know, you can never tell if it's de-energized or not."

The power lines in the mobile demonstration have the same voltage as the ones on every street. Linemen used different materials like tree branches, rubber gloves and a fake squirrel to show what happens when something comes in contact with a charged power line.

"The wire is laying there, it's energized, it's on the ground," Maddalone said. "It's a bad thing but it doesn't become horrible until someone goes to move it. Once they do that, it goes from bad to worse in a hurry."

Although downed lines may not always look dangerous, there is always a risk of getting electrocuted.

"They kind of told us by showing it," said 4th grader Ellie Gould. "And when they did it, it kind of popped and it kind of scared me."

The NYSEG program is in it's 15th year. The demonstration is based off the 4th-grade curriculum

"I think the biggest thing they take away is they have the power to be safe. They can tell their friends to stay away from downed wires and tell them why" said NYSEG Supervisor Anna Carnike.