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A Boston dog, Bob, lost his life yesterday due to a little known electrical hazard.
Metal objects such as sewer covers/grates, metal signs, fire hydrants, light posts, newspaper boxes and dumpsters can become charged for a number of reasons. Salt can damage protective covers in winter months but also general wear and tear can contribute to the problem. If a dog or person touches one of these objects, they will get electrocuted. Some sidewalks have been found to have 100 volts of electricity running through them, which is equivalent to sticking a finger into a live electrical outlet.
This can occur anywhere and is not just a city problem. It is most common during the winter, when snow and ice have been treated with de-icers and salt. While salted sidewalks are certainly a hazard, metal signs or fencing on wet ground can also be electrified.
Tips to protect yourself and your pets:
- Avoid touching or walking on metal objects on or near the street or sidewalk during or after rain, snow or ice, especially on salted streets. Melted snow mixed with de-icing salt is a particularly effective electrical conductor.
- Don’t let your dog sniff or pee on or near anything metal, including trash cans or dumpsters, and especially light poles with missing covers or exposed wiring.
- Never tie your dog to a lamp post or metal sign
- Put rubber dog boots on your pooch, but make sure they are watertight. If they’re not, they could do more harm than good. After each walk, check the boots for damage or holes.
- Don’t use a metal leash. Keep metal on collars to a minimum.
- Flickering street lamps should be reported to the utility company at once. Steer clear of them until they are repaired.
- When walking, pay attention to your surroundings and your dog. Carry a charged cell phone, just in case you have to call for help, but don’t talk on the phone or listen to music while you’re walking – use this time to enjoy your dog’s company while keeping an eye on his safety.
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