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Pretoria – Eskom has launched the National Electricity Safety Week, which promotes and educates the public on the safe use of electricity.

National Electricity Week runs from 11 – 17 August.

“Every year, innocent lives are lost as a consequence of the unsafe use of electricity, particularly in the form of illegal connections. We believe that one injury or fatality as a result of the unsafe use of electricity is one too many.

“We have identified that the biggest contributors to electrical accidents, injuries and fatalities are contact with low-hanging conductors, unsafe connections, vandalism, illegal power connections and cable theft,” Corporate Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Operations Manager at Eskom, Alex Stramrood, said.

He was speaking at the launch held in Winterveld outside Pretoria.

During National Electricity Safety Week, the country’s power utility educates communities about the basics of safe electricity usage and the risks of electricity theft, including meter tampering, bypassing and illegal connections.

Businesses and residents regularly connect to the Eskom network illegally, said Stramrood. This is not only dangerous for the individual making the connection but also places the community at risk. Illegal connections draw too much electricity from the grid, causing power failures to paying customers.

Eskom called on communities to report unsafe electricity connections to 08600 37566 or 0800 112 722 and by reporting electricity theft to Operation Khanyisa by sending an SMS to Crime Line on 32211. The service is anonymous and costs only R1 per SMS.

This year, Eskom will conduct educational shows in areas such as Winterveld and Piet Retief to draw attention to the dangers associated with the unsafe use of electricity.

At each event, the public will enjoy an industrial theatre production that educates them on the various dangers associated with electricity, how to identify the dangers and to know what to do if they spot them.

Eskom also hosts these events at local schools to educate children, who are frequently the victims of illegal connections, on how to protect themselves when encountering unsafe conditions.

“We have found that most people understand that connecting illegally can be dangerous, but they continue to use illegal connections. That is why we are travelling across the country to educate people, with the ultimate aim of reducing fatalities and injuries,” said Stramrood.

In the area of Winterveld, illegal connections are regularly removed, in conjunction with the City of Tshwane and the councillors of the affected areas, and this has helped to improve the network stability and quality of supply in most of the areas.

Eskom wants to remind all South Africans that although electricity is an essential part of life, it can be dangerous if not used correctly.

It called on the public to not collect electricity illegally. Only Eskom employees and authorised contractors can work on networks, meters and substations.

Safety tips

  • Do not pull out plugs by the cord. This damages the cable and can lead to electrical wires being exposed.
  • Do not put bare electrical wires into sockets.
  • Do not touch any electrical appliances with wet hands.
  • Never use electricity in the bathroom; water and electricity are a dangerous combination.
  • Do not pass electric cords from one room to another through hinges of doors or windows where they can be squashed or damaged.
  • Do not overload plug points.
  • Never leave electrical appliances unattended while in use.
  • Switch off heaters, stoves, and kettles when no longer in use.
  • Ensure that you purchase electrical products from reputable companies, distributers, and retailers.
  • Report illegal connections and other forms of electricity theft.

If your children like to go out and play in the fresh air, warn them about the following:

  • Avoid playing near power lines or substations.
  • Do not fly kites near power lines. If a kite gets stuck in a power line, do not try to retrieve it; you could be hurt.
  • Never climb trees or other structures near power lines.