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Electrical safety, from the horse’s mouth

Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: The use of electricity, an integral part of our lives, is increasing by the day. But did you know that accidents involving it are also on the rise? That Kerala accounts for 10 per cent of such accidents taking place in the country?

There are a number of such interesting pieces of information in a handbook brought out by the Electrical Inspectorate of the State government in connection with the observance of the first week of May as the Electrical Safety Week.

The handbook opens with a chapter on “How to avoid accidents involving electricity.” “Carelessness, negligence and ignorance are the main reasons for electrical accidents. Pay attention to the following things to avoid accidents ... ,” it starts off.

Simple points

It is only when going through the content that you realise that these are simple, elementary and easy-to-observe points. What makes them lofty is their ability to save precious lives.

Keep your main switch functional, is the cardinal point. Use a fuse of lower strength than that in the main switch in the minor circuit, is another. Here are a few other samples — there should be a minimum of two minor circuits; there should not be more than 10 light, fan and plug points in one circuit; use only double- or multi-insulated wires for connecting portable electrical equipment — do not use plastic wire; install link in neutral in main switch and circuit; earth the main switch and socket using copper wire of gauge 14; and install switches for plug sockets. The list goes on.

Every point comes as a precious nugget of information. Some of these points are buttressed with diagrams which serve to etch them more firmly in the reader’s mind.

The second chapter is on the effects of electrical shock. It points out that even if electrical shock does not affect a person directly, its throw-off effect can lead to serious injuries. There are portions dealing with the body’s strength to resist shock; the strength of shock; three levels of shock; what should be done in the event of shock; the first aid which should be given; artificial respiration; how shock could affect the rhythm of the heart; burns; and what should be done in the event of a fire of electrical causes.

The Chief Electrical Inspector gives the rationale of the entire electricity safety exercise in his preface: “Let our ultimate goal be to make the State free of electrical accidents.”

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