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Stray Voltage on City Walks: Are You In Danger on Dog Walks?

Did you realize that stray voltage could be lurking along urban streets? If you walk your dog on city streets, you both could be at risk of shock from stray voltage–and the risk becomes greater if your dog pees on an item with stray voltage!

Stray Voltage on City Walks: Are You In Danger on Dog Walks?

What is Stray Voltage?

According to Wikipedia, “Stray voltage is the occurrence of electrical potential between two objects that ideally should not have any voltage difference between them. Small voltages often exist between two grounded objects in separate locations, due to normal current flow in the power system.”

Those two objects can be just everyday items you pass every day on your walk!

How Can You Avoid This Risk?

We’ve got some important tips from Blair Sorrel, who confers with Con Edison’s Stray Voltage and Public Affairs Units.

Your first step, according to Sorrel, is:

Eyeball the Block, Avoid the Shock

Dangers lie in many places and wintertime, with wet sidewalks (and possibly with dog booties that have leaked) are a risk to dog walkers and dogs (especially dogs urinating on metal objects with potential stray electrical current.)

Sorrel notes that dog walkers should first “take just a few seconds to survey the immediate surroundings and make your trajectory toward a non-conductive surface, ie., plastic, wood, cardboard, rather than risking any metal or electrical fixture.”

What is a safe choice? Sorrel recommends, “The lowly, free-standing garbage bag, is you and your dog’s best friend, most of the time, unless it’s snowed and salted.”

Where Could Voltage Be Lurking?

The list of places where that potential stray voltage may lurk is extensive.

Sorrel says to keep an eye out for these common locations along your walk which can be holding stray voltage:

Street & Traffic Lights.

These can leak if damaged internally, even if the compartment is fully closed and the light is not illuminated.

Scaffolding or Sidewalk Sheds.

While anchored by wooden blocks, be aware that sloppy wiring by a contractor and/or the use of lighting equipment that’s not waterproofed even suitable for outdoor usage, may still shock a passerby.

More Urban Fixtures.

Additional places that present a risk include:

  • ATM Vestibules
  • Decorative Lighting
  • Electrical Boxes
  • Fire Hydrants
  • Fire Police Call Boxes
  • Manhole Covers
  • Muni Meters
  • Phone Booths
  • Service Boxes
  • Street Light Boxes
  • Traffic Boxes
  • Work Areas

Pin it to remember!

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