One CERT Member’s Review of Dominion Power’s High Voltage Safety Class
This was not what I was expecting. I suppose that’s good for CERT. I was expecting a classroom lecture with a PowerPoint show. We were never in a classroom: We signed in just inside the Fire Academy High Bay, then all went outside for the demonstration.
|The Dominion demonstration trailer. It's hooked up to live current from the power grid. Photo: Carlos Santiso, Fairfax County CERT Class 73.|
A Cooking Demonstration?
They first began by demonstrating what 6,800 volts from a primary line will do to a hot dog:
The hot dog was well done with the first touch of the line, but they recooked it for any who may not have been paying attention. This was not a cooking class, so none of us were ready with relish and a bun. (How unprepared we were!)
|Hot dog at the moment of ignition. Photo: Carlos Santiso.|
A secondary line, we were told, would have less than 600 volts. That’s still plenty of power to zap people. Remember, that hot dog was just a metaphor for us. CERT members and non-CERT members alike could get cooked just as fast as that hot dog!
|Panoramic view of the demonstration and CERT attendees. Photo: Jeffrey Katz, Volunteer Liaison, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.|
We were asked to report power problems by calling 866.DOM.HELP (866-466-4357) and supplying an address or pole number. The pole number, which is specific to the equipment on that pole, can be found on the band that wraps around the pole, or on a label running downward.
Any of this information may be reported, BUT don’t get dangerously close to downed or damaged lines to read those pole numbers.
|CERT attendees definitely paid attention to the demonstration. Photo: Jeffrey Katz.|
Sometimes you can't even see the hazard in broad daylight. I mentioned a situation that happened in my neighborhood a week after Snowmegeddon. A plow finally came to clear our road and pushed so much snow that it moved one of those green boxes of high voltage equipment loose from a neighbor’s lawn. A week after the storm, we got our road cleared and a power outage, to boot! But we could not see any damaged equipment or exposed wires—all we saw was snow.
My takeaway is Stay Away!
Howard M. Kaye, Fairfax County CERT Class 8, is a professional photographer in Burke. You may contact him at email@example.com.