Toronto Hydro’s friendly reminder with your latest bill: how not to get electrocuted
Last week, two dogs were electrocuted on a sidewalk at the corner of Queen East and Parliament streets. A police officer who tried to pick one of the animals up was also badly burned. Now, in what we’re sure is a totally unrelated campaign, Toronto Hydro is issuing a leaflet alongside this month’s bills about the dangers of contact voltage—that is, electricity on the surfaces of outdoor structures, particularly metal ones like street lights and signs. Apparently, it can cause potentially fatal electrocution to those that come in contact with charged surfaces.
Animals are particularly vulnerable to death by contact voltage because they almost always have at least two feet on the ground, providing a better path for electricity to travel through the animal’s body and then back into the ground, says Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Denise Attalah. She also says that Toronto’s aging electricity infrastructure is partly to blame (the dogs were zapped when defective equipment from a TTC pole charged the nearby sidewalk with electricity), as are other uncontrollable factors, like vibrations from streetcars that cause underground wires to shift, or freezing and thawing that comes with winter.
Toronto Hydro is currently upgrading some of its infrastructure and has conducted safety campaigns since 2008. The leaflet offers practical examples of how to avoid electrocution, but still fails to instill confidence. Suggestions include advising pet owners to use leashes made out of non-conductive materials such as nylon, and walking close to storefronts in order to stay away from street lights.