When lineman Robert Gallagher was a boy, his curiosity around electricity led to some shocks and blown toy electrical motors, he recalled with a chuckle. Today, his lessons learned are being passed down to his two sons, Jacob and Christian.
As a seven-year lineman with Southern California Edison (SCE), safety around electricity is also a lesson he is passing on to schoolchildren in the utility’s linemen library readings throughout its service territory.
“I was a curious child growing up, and I want to share what I have learned with others, so they don’t make the same errors I did,” he said. “I’ve taught my boys, and at times the neighboring children in my community, about electrical safety, and I’ll continue to share where possible.”
Gallagher recently read “Electricity: Bulbs, Batteries and Sparks” by Darlene R. Stile to children at the Fullerton Public Library as part of SCE’s linemen readings to educate kids about electrical safety. He corrected some misperceptions children have about electricity and reiterated an important message: always respect electricity.
“Connecting with the children on their level is key to helping them retain information, and the library readings provide just that — a simple way to share electrical safety messaging with children and parents,” he said. “If children can take away just one message from these readings, I would encourage them to respect electricity and if they encounter a downed overhead wire, even if they think it’s not an electrical power line, stay away and call 911.”
Like all linemen who work around electricity daily, safety is a way of life. An important goal for SCE is to bring this same electrical safety awareness to the communities it serves, so customers can remain safe around overhead and underground power lines.
“Our top priority at SCE is the safety of the community and this series of library readings will provide a platform for children to learn ways to be safe around electricity, both in the home and outdoors, and allow them to ask electrical professionals questions and participate in activities and photo opportunities,” said Don Neal, SCE director of Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 70 percent of electrical accidents involving children occur at home when adult supervision is present. And each year, there are about 60 electrocutions associated with consumer products, said the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
“With our growing dependency on technology, children will continue to be exposed to electricity, and it’s important that children learn electrical safety at an early age,” said librarian Rita Law. “The Fullerton Library was pleased to partner with SCE to bring electrical safety messaging to the Fullerton community.”
SCE has partnered with several libraries throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties to share electrical safety messaging with children and parents. The next SCE linemen reading will take place from 2-3 p.m. Saturday at the San Gabriel Library, 500 S. Del Mar Ave. The linemen library readings are free and open to the public.
“It’s very essential for children to learn electrical safety,” said Adrianna Mejia. “I teach my 7-year-old daughter, Cassidy, about in-home electrical safety such as electricity and water do not mix, but now after hearing lineman Gallagher share electrical safety tips, I understand the importance of making sure my daughter is aware of her surroundings, especially around overhead power lines.”