‘Kids risk death near electricity apparatus’

Caoimhe McKnight.
Caoimhe McKnight.

A Derry councillor has asked parents to make sure their children stay away from pylons and substations this summer after Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) warned they present a real risk of death or injury.

Sinn Féin councillor for the greater Shantallow area Caoimhe McKnight said that with the good weather and school holidays there was a greater chance of children encountering hazards while playing in their local areas.

She said children were often unaware of the dangers presented by seemingly innocuous features of their everyday environments and suggested adults needed to make sure they were aware of the potentially lethal risks on their doorsteps.

“I would ask parents in the city to try and ensure that they prevent their children from going anywhere near electricity substations or electricity pylons,” said Colr. McKnight.

“And appeal also to the young people to understand the risks and to stay away from the likes of electricity sub stations as they are not a playground.”

The Sinn Féin councillor said she understood children would be children but suggested a timely pep talk or laying down of ground rules could go a long way to preventing a tragedy.

“We all know that children love to climb up, on, and over things. Fences are particularly inviting. With more children getting outside to play during the summer, it is the perfect time for parents to talk to them about electrical substations and why they must never climb the fences surrounding them,” she said.

“An electrical substation has thousands of volts running through it. This can kill someone in an instant. Only authorized and trained workers are allowed to work in or near high voltage substations. The whole substation is a danger zone, so children have to be prevented from getting near them at all times”

She made the call after Alex Wallace, a safety officer at NIE Networks, had warned: “During the school holidays, as our young people head out to play, they need to know that they could be injured or killed if they interfere with or try to climb overhead power lines or try to get into substations.

“Interfering with our electricity network, can prove fatal, so we’re appealing to parents and guardians to spend time talking to their children about the dangers.

“Following simple advice and being aware may just save a life. If you spot anything you think is unsafe, call us and we’ll send out our emergency crews. If your football, frisbee or anything ever gets inside a substation, call us on 03457 643 643 and we’ll get it for you, remind your friends and always look out for them as well.”

Colr. McKnight said: “Electricity is part of our everyday life - designed to provide us with a safe and reliable source of energy, but sometimes it can be dangerous. This happens when we’re exposed to it in ways we were not meant to be. We can avoid these hazards by following some simple rules and informing children of its dangers”

NIE is urging parents to ensure their children keep out of empty or derelict buildings and avoid climbing trees and flying kites or drones, near overhead power lines.