By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Eighteen children and 14 adults learned more about “How Electricity Works” at the Licking Library Summer Reading Program on Thursday.
Librarian Lee Ann Akins read to attendees “The Couch Potato,” by Jory John and Pete Oswald, prior to the presentation by Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association (IECA) Member Service Representative Aaron “Abe” Epstein.
While we may take electricity for granted, Epstein explained the different kinds of electricity, how it arrives at our homes and businesses, and how to stay safe with electricity.
There are three kinds of electricity: static electricity, which we’ve all experienced when our hair stands on end; alternating current (AC) electricity, used in our homes; and direct current-battery or DC electricity, primarily used in vehicles.
Our bodies are always grounded; this is called negative charge. Electricity is a positive charge. Electricity is always looking for a pathway to the ground. It should never be our body, the negative charge. This is why safety around electricity is always so important.
Electricity is now generated using four methods, singularly or in a combination of coal, natural gas, water and wind. Locally our electricity is generated using renewable and fossil fuels.
One important responsibility of our area electric cooperatives is stepping down the voltage from the substation to its availability for our use. This is done with transformers. Voltage comes in at the substation at 15,000 to 69,000 volts; a transformer decreases that voltage to 7,200 volts being transferred on the electric wires throughout communities. Transformers then convert the voltage via three wires to 240 volts, which are 120 volts per pole (two poles) with a ground to the outside of our homes. Additional safety is provided with a breaker panel in our homes, which de-energizes the line or current if there is a fault.
Epstein then explained multiple safety rules when being exposed to electricity outside of its “normal” bounds, as in storm and fire situations.
“NEVER touch a downed power line,” emphasized Epstein.
He further taught the kids how to exit a vehicle with a downed power line on the vehicle or in the vicinity. Jump off or out of the vehicle with both feet, don’t step! Hopping 50 feet away was illustrated; this is done due to a ripple effect, with the ring closest to the power line having the highest voltage. If one foot lands in a different voltage area than the other, the risk of severe injury or even death is increased. The rings are called electric magnetic forces (EMF) and they dissipate the further they travel.
A realistic mini-model presentation included a school bus. “I want you to hop away from the school bus,” explained Epstein.
Attendees were shown what a transformer looked like on the model, and an explanation informed them why they should never touch or play around the transformer.
Another important safety rule is to always check with your cooperative before you dig around your homes; they can locate any buried lines to prevent mishaps.
“Always assume that lines are energized,” concluded Epstein.
The children were excited to then join hands in a large circle as they formed a human circuit, a final demonstration of electricity. Participants were also given a cardboard model of a bucket truck to construct at their leisure.
More safety information and tips may be found at https://www.ieca.coop/.
Photos by Christy Porter