Molly Hall, Director of Safe Electricity
Safety & Health:
Electrical Accident Survivor Shares Experience
Urges caution around power lines
Shawn Miller is urging people to use extreme caution around overhead power lines. And he speaks from personal experience. Five years ago, a routine outdoor activity took a tragic turn.
He was working on the trees in his mother’s yard when somehow his equipment made contact with the overhead power lines, sending 7,200 volts of electricity through his body. He has no memory of the accident and was unconscious, smoke rising from his chest, when his mother found him.
Miller had to be revived three times and ultimately, survived the tremendous shock. But the road to recovery was long and hard for him as well as his family.
He lost his left hand and a finger on his right hand, suffering 27 exit wounds throughout his body. Dozens of surgeries and skin grafts later, he is a walking miracle and wants to offer others lessons learned to get the word out about the importance of electrical safety.
He says “Power lines were the last thing on my mind that day. I’m lucky to be alive. I want everyone to be careful, be aware of power lines. Know what your surroundings are. Educate yourself.”
Miller’s story is the centerpiece of Safe Electricity’s Teach Learn Care (TLC) campaign this year. I urge everyone to watch the video of Miller’s compelling story which can be seen on SafeElectricity.org.
Miller says it’s vital for people to take time making themselves aware of their surroundings before working with or around items that use electricity, indoors and out. It’s a timely reminder during a season when millions of people are tackling projects around their homes.
Miller and Safe Electricity encourage everyone to follow these guidelines as they prepare to work outdoors:
• Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long metal tools like ladders, pool skimmers and pruning poles. Lower your long equipment when you are moving it. Carry ladders and other long items horizontally whenever possible.
• Be careful when working on or around your roof, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, doing roof repair work or cleaning gutters. Never go up on the roof in bad weather.
• Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from lines.
• Never trim trees near power lines - leave that to the professionals. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.
• Never climb trees near power lines. Even if the power lines aren’t touching the tree, they could touch when more weight is added to the branch.
• If your projects include digging call your local underground utility locator before you begin. Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. This service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted, and can help you avoid serious injury.
Miller says “After something life-changing happens, you become more interested and learn much more. Had I known more before this happened, I might still have two hands and the job I loved.
“I have to find ways to move on with my life and help people learn from what has happened to me. Safe Electricity is helping me help others.”
In the video, he and his family talk about the ordeal and what they want the public to know. His mother, Maria, urges, “Teach the people you love, teach your children to stay away from overhead power lines and the trees that are near them.” Miller adds that everyone should see a live power line demonstration, like the one available for viewing on SafeElectricity.org.
Shawn Miller has a lot to teach us about electrical safety, and we are grateful he is sharing his story through our Teach Learn Care TLC campaign. I’m convinced that people who view the video will take the precautions necessary to avoid accidents involving contact with power lines. And I encourage everyone who does, to share this life-saving information with those they love.
For More Information:
Molly Hall is the Director of Safe Electricity. E-mail: molly-hall@SafeElectricity.org and for more information on these and other kinds of situations involving electricity visit www.SafeElectricity.org.
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