The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is warning parents and children about the dangers of utility power lines, power poles and substations in light of a potentially dangerous message shown in movie theaters this summer.
The foundation is particularly concerned about one scene in the recent box-office hit, “Like Mike,” that shows a young boy, portrayed by popular rap star Lil Bow Wow, climbing a tree during a storm to retrieve sneakers dangling from a power line. Lightning strikes knock the boy to the ground. The high-voltage electric shock that travels through the line and the shoes not only leaves him unhurt, but allows him to play basketball like NBA superstar Michael Jordan.
“Super human powers are not gained by contacting power lines,” said Michael Clendenin, ESFI executive director. “We need kids to understand that even coming in close proximity to these lines could prove fatal.”
The ESFI says it takes only 10mA to 40mA for serious injury and even death to occur. Utility power lines can carry thousands of volts, nearly ensuring death to the victim. For this reason, power lines, substations, transformers and other electrical equipment should only be handled by trained professionals.
“People are sometimes lulled into believing power lines are insulated and safe to contact when they see birds landing safely on wires and this movie adds to that misconception,” Clendenin said. But the birds do not represent a path for the electric current to go from the line to ground. The combination of sneakers, child and tree, as shown in this movie, do.”
The ESFI implores people to stay away from power lines and utility equipment. If something needs to be retrieved from a power line, the utility company should be contacted immediately.